LOS ANGELES -- Noel Mazzone is the UCLA Bruins’ offensive coordinator, but he expects to spend some time in the defensive team meetings this week.
The Bruins play on the road this weekend, but quarterback Brett Hundley has been busy trying to find tickets for friends and family.
When UCLA visits the Arizona State Sun Devils in Tempe on Saturday, the teams will be playing for position in the Pac-12 South Division race, but for several Bruins with Phoenix-area ties the game carries a bit more meaning.
Mazzone was the offensive coordinator at Arizona State in 2010 and 2011 and played a major role in recruiting many of the current Sun Devils players. Hundley went to high school in nearby Chandler, Ariz.
Running backs coach Steve Broussard spent the last two seasons as receivers coach at ASU. And punter Jeff Locke went to high school in nearby Glendale and grew up and Arizona State fan.
“It special in that I know mostly all of those kids over there and they’re great kids,” Mazzone said. “But I’m a UCLA Bruin now and I want to go over there and play as hard as we can and come away with a win.”
Hundley may have been raised near Tempe, but his father went to Arizona so he grew up in a home that disliked the Sun Devils. Still, he has many friends and family in the area who want to see him play in his first appearance here, so he’s been hitting up teammates for extra tickets this week.
“I’ve been asking everybody,” Hundley said. “I’ve got to try and get as many as possible, so I’m on the prowl for all of them. I’m hoping about 20, but I’m pushing for more.”
Finding tickets is not a problem for Locke. He has already warned his friends and family that he wouldn’t be able to get enough ducats for them, so they have already bought theirs.
“I’ve actually been giving tickets to Brett,” Locke said.
Locke grew up an Arizona State fan. He said he still has a Sun Devils sweatshirt in his closet at home and that his college choice came down to ASU and UCLA. Still, he said, he enjoyed his last experience playing against the Sun Devils even though it was a bit nerve-racking playing at the stadium where he grew up watching games.
“I got control of my excitement,” Locke said. “I got so excited when I went back there. You have to calm it down a little bit and make sure you do your thing.”
Arizona State won 55-34 in that 2010 game to which Locke was referring, rallying from a 17-0 first-quarter deficit with an offensive coaching staff that included Mazzone and Broussard. Having two coaches on staff who know the Arizona State players well would seem to be an advantage for the Bruins, but Mazzone said that’s only an illusion.
“I think that’s sometimes a little overrated,” Mazzone said. “It still comes down to blocking and tackling.”
Conversely, it might be an advantage for Arizona State’s defense to play an offense so similar to the one it faced for two years in practice.
“They know our offense and they know some of our tendencies and things like that,” Broussard said. “So we’re going to have to try to do some things a little bit different than we would normally do.”
One thing Broussard said he wouldn’t be doing this week is sending too many text messages or posting on Facebook to his former players.
“You have some friends over there and some relationships with some players,” he said. “You tell them, ‘Hey, see you on Saturday,’ but the last thing you want to do is give anybody any bulletin board material.”