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Spaulding Report: A More Aggressive Offense for UCLA Football

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Mazzone takes some but not all of the credit for the failed offense against ASU.

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

As Bruins everywhere lament the missed opportunity last weekend, and lick their wounds at the hands of the ASU Sun Devils, we the fans can only hope the coaches are going through just as much soul searching as the rest of us.

Not all the soul searching was done privately.


Ouch. But who can argue with that? Certainly not Offensive Coordinator Noel Mazzone, who spoke about the need to run a more aggressive offense. Despite the coach speak, the reporters asked repeatedly about the 'Vanilla offense.'

"it’s funny you ask that question. I was not nearly as aggressive a play caller as I should be at this point. That’s life, you make mistakes . . . you make mistakes. It's who we are; a kinda tempo aggressive offense. I haven’t been nearly aggressive as I should be. It’s not the schemes. Schemes are schemes. It’s just a matter of . . . how aggressive . . . when you play an aggressive defense, you better be aggressive offensively."

That sounds like a man who's done some soul searching. But, the questions did not end there. He was asked if the BYU game and the three interceptions were the reason for the many run plays called.

"No. I got total confidence in our QB and total confidence in the rest of the kids on offense. It’s my job to put them in the right position to have success. That falls on my shoulders not their shoulders. . . . And, then when I put them in the right position, it’s on their shoulders to make plays for us. It’s a pretty simple equation."

Doh!! You were so close!! But, there you have it. Maybe he remains in a form of induced shock that makes him punt as soon as things get difficult. Because, that's what he's doing here. He punted, and he put the onus back on the players. "It's on their shoulders to make plays." Isn't that just wonderful? And while he is partially correct, there were a number of dropped passes; I would think that building rhythm is pretty important to the success of the plays called. And, he did go into that a little bit.

"You don’t get a lot of plays when you go 3 and out. That has nothing to do with tempo. You can’t keep your butt on the field, you’re not going to have a lotta plays. The week before we were 11 for 15 on 3rd down. So, we’re going to have a lotta plays. This week we were like 3 for 15, so you’re not going to have a lotta plays. The tempo part of it has nothing to do with it."

Ok, so in reality, he was talking about tempo. But, I do feel he's dodging the issue at hand. Obviously you can't run many plays by going 3 and out. And, you need to run a number of plays to begin to build on each other, and create a drive. But, I think he's completely missing the point. After a possession or two of doing the same thing, and making little progress, maybe it's time to try something new. We sure as hell better get it figured out before we take on suddenly dangerous Stanford.

"They really are a team that does a great job against us. They have since I’ve been here. They’re physical, well coached, um a little bit of a bend don’t break mentality . You’re not going to get many touches against them. So, you better make them count. So the main thing is you have to create first downs and you have to have some patience."

We're doomed. Oh. I know what you're going to say. I'm a naysayer. well, I'm just not one that takes a lot of comfort from the platitudes of coach speak. Take in the presser for yourself and see if you feel any different.

Defensive Coordinator Tom Bradley on the other hand, sound like he has done very little soul searching; and that's a good thing.

"It’s like every game there are 5 plays that make a difference and you know there was a few we would like to get back But, we didn’t. You have to give them credit."

Exactly one question later when asked about the first touchdown we surrendered:

"Well I think that was a play . . . I’d like to have that call back. . . The one we called, I’d like to have that one back. I put my guys in a bad situation there."

Here is a guy I want to run through walls for. Everything is a matter of 'we.' He does not take the blame in one sentence then hand some out in the next. He owns it.

He was asked about Jayon Brown's increased role, as well as Isaako Savaiinaea, and Kenny Young, and I really admire how he talks about his players. I encourage you to hear him for yourself. But, I particularly liked how he talked about Kenny Young.

"Kenny is a guy who wants to be better, Who’s trying all the time to get better. He studies the game. We’ve moved him around, he’s played a couple of different positions. Everybody forgets we lost a whole game . . . So in fairness to him we have moved him around because of the injuries. I think Kenny’s a guy when he feels comfortable he’ll start to play faster."

There is much more in his interview, and I really recommend you take the time to hear what he has to say:

A very big and hearty thank you to Mr. Ed Lewis of Bruin Sports Report for the use of his videos.

Finally, let's take a moment to celebrate along side the inimitable Kaimi Fairbairn who nailed a 53 yard field goal last Saturday. A first his career. Jack Wang has a really cool vid of Kaimi talking about it, and you can really see the joy in his face as he talks about it.

Let me just close by saying that despite the demoralizing loss, UCLA Football has always shown a streak of resilience and an ability to bounce back from a tough loss with a great game. We have a very tall order in front of us, but once again I find myself eagerly eyeing the game ahead of us with a glimmer of hope. We are once again the underdogs; and, for some reason we always play better as underdogs.