Dec. 16, 2012
As part of UCLA's coverage leading up to the Holiday Bowl, UCLABruins.com caught up with Bruin offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone to discuss such topics as his favorite bowl game memory, how he prepares players for a bowl game, and his thoughts on this year's senior class.
Be sure to check back every day over the next 13 days for more content heading into UCLA's Dec. 27 contest against Baylor.
Don't forget to visit UCLA's BOWL CENTRAL PAGE for the latest information regarding the Bridgepoint Education Holiday Bowl.
Q:What's your earliest bowl memory as a coach?
A: The 1997 Motor City Bowl when I was at Ole Miss. We played Marshall and their quarterback was Chad Pennington and their number one wide receiver was Randy Moss. Our running back was Deuce McAllister. It was one hell of a football game.
Q: Other than the action, what do you remember about that game?
A:It was around the holidays (December 26), so of course it was festive. The kids were all very excited to be there and to be playing against another really good football team.
Q: You've been a part of many bowl games since then, does any one in particular stick out in your mind?
A:The (January 1) 2001 Citrus Bowl game against Michigan when I was at Auburn. At the end of the game, we were driving to win the football game and they stopped us. But, that is not why I remember it. I remember it because they started a kid named Drew Henson at quarterback against us and had some no name named Tom Brady on the bench (laughs).
Q: How do you prepare the team for a bowl game?
A:I told the kids just the other day that I don't see this so much as the finish of a season as much I do the start of the next one. It is a reward for having a successful season, and it would be awesome for our seniors to go out with a win and tie the school record with ten wins, but we are really starting the 2013 season in many regards.
Q: How important are the extra practices leading up to the game?
A:I think it's good for the kids who have been running the scout team all year to get an introduction to our system. Those kids haven't really spent a lot of time in our meeting rooms and this gives them a chance to get familiar with it and understand what we are trying to accomplish, as opposed to running plays off a card.
Q: Any message to the outgoing seniors?
A:It has been an awesome group. There are not a lot of them (who contribute regularly on offense) but I think that they totally bought in to Coach Mora and have done a great job of being the foundation and the steadiness to the group throughout the ups and downs and the successes and the adversities of the season.