By Chris Foster
4:52 PM PST, December 29, 2013
Sunday was news conference day for UCLA's and Virginia Tech’s offensive and defensive coordinators, as the two teams prepare for the Hyundai Sun Bowl.
That meant one thing: You’re on, Mr. Mazzone.
Noel Mazzone, UCLA’s offensive coordinator, took this as an open mike night.
On playing in El Paso, Mazzone hearkened back to his days as a New Mexico quarterback.
“Actually, it’s kind of nice. I feel like I’m home because there’s a Whataburger on every corner.”
On grading the Bruins’ young offensive line, he said, “B-minus … C-plus. I have them going the right way 50% of the time, so that’s an improvement.”
On sophomore quarterback Brett Hundley possibly jumping to the NFL, Mazzone said, “He’s like every 20-year-old who all of sudden thinks he might make $100 million. I imagine he probably thinks about it every now and then. He’s a kid who focuses pretty well. Now if I can just get him to not focus on the defensive front and [focus] on the secondary little better.”
A lot of Mazzone’s shtick hit at the heart of the matter for the Bruins.
Can the UCLA offensive line hold off Virginia Tech’s dominant defensive front that ranks fifth nationally in sacks, third in passing yards allowed and third in passing efficiency defense?
The Bruins’ line was buried in a 38-33 loss to Arizona State and came back the following week to manhandle USC in a 35-14 victory. The group includes freshmen Caleb Benenoch, Scott Quessenberry and Alex Redmond, who Mazzone said, “will all be really good football players.”
If they can protect Hundley, the concern falls to other side.
“We’ve played some really good ones over the years, like Donavan McNabb,” said Virginia Tech defensive coordinator Bud Foster.
“[Hundley] is bigger,” Foster said. “I’m impressed with his toughness when he runs. He breaks a lot of tackles.”
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