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UCLA FOOTBALL FYI

It's sort of a father-son bonding for two UCLA football coaches

Noel Mazzone, the Bruins' offensive coordinator, gets to work closely with son Taylor, a graduate assistant, and the wisecracks are never in short supply.

December 23, 2012|By Chris Foster
  • Noel Mazzone, left, is UCLA's offensive coordinator.
Noel Mazzone, left, is UCLA's offensive coordinator. (Phil Sandlin / Associated…)

Taylor Mazzone, UCLA's offensive graduate assistant, has spent the last three years in the family business.

Noel Mazzone, his father, is the Bruins' offensive coordinator. And Taylor never forgets his No. 1 duty.

"Someone had to babysit him," he said.

The acorn doesn't fall too far.

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Noel Mazzone, in his first season at UCLA, has mixed play calling with the occasional wisecracks. His son seems determined to follow that path.

Taylor Mazzone, 25, is getting plenty of experience working with the quarterbacks. He did the same the last two years at Arizona State, where his father was offensive coordinator.

"Taylor, he's the hands-on guy with the quarterbacks," Noel Mazzone said. "He spends a lot of time working on their fundamentals, the actual stuff on the field, as well as spending time in the film room with them."

Taylor Mazzone was a senior backup quarterback at East Carolina when the light bulb clicked.

"We were in the Liberty Bowl in 2009, playing Arkansas," Mazzone said. "After halftime, we're running through the tunnel and I realized I couldn't say goodbye to this. I was going to go into the construction business, but I realized the sideline is where I wanted to be."

The reaction at home was mixed.

"Much to his mom's chagrin, he called me and said, 'I think I want to coach,' " Noel Mazzone said.

A problem?

"No, my wife didn't talk to me much before that either," Mazzone said.

Taylor Mazzone, it turned out, had a knack for the job. Bruins Coach Jim Mora checked his references: San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers, Denver Broncos quarterback Brock Osweiler, New York Jets quarterback Tim Tebow.

Noel Mazzone and his son have worked with all three.

"Philip Rivers and Brock Osweiler sung Taylor's praises," Mora said. "Tim Tebow said that Taylor was the best quarterback coach in his family."

Mora won't go that far — "Noel's done a pretty good job," he said — but he does see this as Taylor Mazzone's future.

"He is only 25, but he is a guy completely capable right now of coaching quarterbacks at any level," Mora said.

The Mazzones spend time watching the opponents' tape together. They both draw up game plans and compare them.

Not that they always agree.

"This season, he has made some pretty good third-down calls, but there are sometimes when I'll look at him like, 'You want what?' " Taylor Mazzone said. "This has been good for father-son bonding."

What next?

UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley has surpassed Cade McNown's school season record with 3,776 total yards. He has 3,411 yards passing, 59 shy of McNown's season record.

Bruins running back Johnathan Franklin set aseason record with 1,700 yards rushing.

It leaves Noel Mazzone wondering one thing.

"What the heck am I going to do next year?" Mazzone said.

More Heisman talk

Last week, Baylor running back Lache Seastrunk said he would win the Heisman Trophy in 2013. Mora wouldn't go that far talking about Hundley, a redshirt freshman, but he came close.

Said Mora: "I'm not going to call him a Heisman Trophy contender for next year. But I will say that his play over the course of the next couple of years will make him a guy that people around the country will say, 'Why isn't this guy being talked about as being one of the greatest players in college football?' "

Hold the applause, please

Baylor, UCLA's opponent in the Bridgepoint Education Holiday Bowl, arrived in San Diego on Saturday. Players and coaches were greeted at the hotel by 40 Holiday Bowl officials wearing red jackets.

"If Paul Revere was here, he'd be hoarse from yelling 'the red coats are coming,' " Baylor Coach Art Briles told the Waco Tribune-Herald.

Art, don't quit your day job.

chris.foster@latimes.com

twitter.com/cfosterlatimes

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