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Athlon Sports picks Arizona OC Noel Mazzone’s brain

Included in ‘Coordinator Roundtable’ article

arizona-wildcats-college-football-noel-mazzone-kevin-sumlin-khalil-tate-spring-practice-interview Photo by Ryan Kelapire

Noel Mazzone’s relationship with quarterback Khalil Tate is going to be integral to how the Arizona Wildcats perform on offense this season. Tate is the latest in a long line of notable QBs that Mazzone has worked with in his career as a college coach.

With stops at eight different power-conference schools in the past 20 years, Mazzone is one of the most well-respected offensive coordinators in the country. Athlon Sports included him in its “Coordinator Roundtable” piece that was published last week.

Among the topics Mazzone opened up on: quarterback collaboration, play scripting, rules he’d like to see changed and the best coaches and players he’s gone up against.

On collaboration with quarterbacks leading up to a game:

“I started this with Philip Rivers [at NC State]. I’d have a game plan on the white board and Phillip would come in on Wednesday after class and without me in the room, he’d rank the plays in the game plan—one he loved and 10 he hated. Anything over about a 6, I took out of the game plan, unless I really loved it. Obviously I knew better than he did.”

On the number of plays installed for a game week:

I’m going to say the max number of plays on the sheet—that includes red zone, third down, goal line, all that—is somewhere around 38 to 45 plays. We’re not a big scheme offense as far as having different schemes for every game plan. We’re more ‘don’t change the play but change the presentation.’”

On which opposing defensive coordinators he’s considered the best:

“Everyone I can’t score points on! I always have thought [USC’s] Clancy Pendergast was tough. Jeremy Pruitt was tough at Alabama, but they also have some really good players over there. That helps. When I was at UCLA, [then-Stanford defensive coordinator] Derek Mason was a real tough one to go against.”

On which positions are the easiest and hardest for him to recruit:

The easiest for me is quarterbacks. That’s because I know those guys, and I’ve got a good feel for them and I’ve had a chance to be around a lot of them. I kind of can talk the QB language. Probably for me the most difficult is DBs. You know deep down in my heart I don’t really like those guys.”

On what rule he’d love to see changed or implemented in college football:

“The coach-to-quarterback communication. I’d like the NFL style where you have the phone going into the QBs helmet.”