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Arizona OC Noel Mazzone talks quarterback competition, tight end usage, receivers, and more

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arizona-wildcats-noel-mazzone-grant-gunnell-preseason-practice-interview-takeaways-joiner-receivers Photo by Jevone Moore/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Arizona Wildcats offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone met with the media Wednesday after the team’s second spring practice.

Here are some of the notable things he said about a variety of topics. The full interview can be watched at the bottom of this article.

On if he agrees with Kevin Sumlin that Grant Gunnell is the No. 1 quarterback: “Grant obviously had some success last year, did a nice job, so... I would agree with Coach Sumlin. But Rhett (Rodriguez) has been solid for two days. Kevin Doyle, I’m really excited. He flashed yesterday, did some really good things. Excited about our young guy Will (Plummer) and even Luke (Ashworth). They’re guys that understand that the room is responsible to help this football team win games, so they’re all pulling in the same direction.”

On the changes to the offense now that a pocket passer like Gunnell, not Khalil Tate, is in charge: “We’ve made a few adjustments offensively for him, for the type of player we’ve got at quarterback now. So there’s some new things in there he’s getting used to. We’re playing a little bit more with our tight ends and different personnel groups. We got a couple new guys on the outside and some young guys are now stepping up, so it’s just getting ready for the me-to-you factor with him and his receivers and getting comfortable with all those guys.”

On Gunnell’s ability to audible: “Anytime at that position that he can get us out of bad plays, get us into a better play, he can make adjustments at the line of scrimmage, he does a really good job of bringing in information, retaining the information and processing information out on the field.”

On if Arizona will run a two-quarterback system: “No, we won’t do that.”

On if he wants to establish a pecking order by the end of spring: “Yes, I don’t want a whole lot of either-ors.

On Doyle: “He’s really got good arm talent. He went through the (arm) injury last year during camp, so it really set him back. So right now I think just the mental part, he’s having to catch up a little bit. But as far as his physical tools he can make any throw you need him to make.”

On Will Plummer enrolling early: “It’s just like Grant last year, right? I think it puts him so far ahead of the curve, especially at the quarterback position because there’s so much time involved with that position. And so they’re not just showing up in August, getting thrown in the fire, and it’s real easy to kind of get lost because we’re moving forward. So I think it really gives him a really gives a young quarterback (a chance) to come in and (build) really a great foundation to come in August and really start to compete.”

On the receivers: “We got a talented group of receivers. Brendan Schooler coming in (from Oregon) is really helping us. You got some young guys, Jalen (Johnson) and Boobie (Curry). (Bryce) Wolma is going to figure a lot more in the offense this year. Obviously you guys all know about (Brian) Casteel and Jamarye (Joiner) and Tay (Cunningham) because you’ve seen them play, but I think we can really have some young guys and a new guy that can come in and add to that group. I think we finally have some depth there, so I’m really, really excited about them.”

On the offensive line: “Like every team in the country the offensive line in the spring, you’re always a little bit low in numbers. But now we’re getting to the point where these guys have been around this offense for a few years and they’ve been a freshman and they’ve kind of grown up in it and so it’s been a fun time.”

On if the shaky o-line affected the QB play last season: “That’s any team in the country, right? From junior high to the NFL. And I think obviously we had a little bit of a depth issue and we lost a couple guys, so it was kind of musical chairs in the offensive line. Like I always say, we were playing like five pennies, not like a nickel because we’re having to move guys around so much so that it affects your offense.”

On involving the tight ends more: “We’ve had Bryce (Wolma) and when we got here we didn’t have a lot of depth at that spot. And so as a coach, you’re always you’re like, ‘Okay, well if I put this whole package in for the tight end and I only have one and he gets hurt in the second play of the game, then I’ve pretty much wasted a lot of time there.’ So it gives us a lot more flexibility to build some packages around the tight end. So I’m really excited about it. I’m excited about both him and Stacey (Marshall) getting in there and helping us football team.”

On Stacey Marshall, who’s listed at 6-5, 248 pounds: “He’s that real big guy out there. It’s a little bit new, it’s going pretty fast for him right now. But he’s got a great attitude about it, came from an offense where basically he just stood next to the tackle and blocked the guy in front of him. We’re asking him to do a lot more, so his head’s spinning a little bit, which is to be expected. But his enthusiasm for wanting to be good is important and he has that enthusiasm.”

More on Marshall: “I watched him on film a couple of times. (Theron) Aych and I think Coach (Sumlin) went up there to see him. So the first time I met him was when he came on campus. And when you put the film him, what jumped out is his effort, how hard he played. And then when he walks in the room, you go, ‘Okay, well, this looks good, too.’ He’s 6-5 and moves, and it’s not unbelievable, but he’s got really good ball skills. Now, he’s still kind of going all over the place and learning how to drop his weight and all those type of things, which he’s probably never had to do that before in his career because he’s always been just attached tight end, so I think that I think his learning curve could be kind of exponential.”

On if he regrets how things went with Khalil Tate: “We all have have things like that but he’s gonna hopefully have a great pro day and have a great opportunity to play at the next level in the NFL because he definitely has all the tools.”

Here’s Arizona Football offensive coordinator, Noel Mazzone, after the Wildcats’ second day of spring practice on Tuesday.

Posted by AZ Desert Swarm on Tuesday, March 3, 2020