KC Joyner is putting a buy rating on UCLA.
At least he sees the potential for a dramatic turnaround in 2012 under first-year coach Jim Mora.
First of all, here's how he defines his terms of potential quick turnarounds:
This is especially true when a coach who is perfectly suited to solve the specific issues that are holding the team back is hired -- either as a head coach or as an assistant. The combination of coach Brady Hoke and defensive coordinator Greg Mattison certainly proved to be impact hires this season, delivering a BCS bowl berth for the Michigan Wolverines in Year 1. The same goes for Clemson Tigers offensive coordinator Chad Morris, who helped turn around the Tigers' offense en route to a BCS berth of their own.
Among the hires already made this offseason, which schools are likely to see an immediate turnaround based on the tactics and schemes their new coaches will bring to the table? We've identified three teams to keep an eye on.
Joyner is particularly high on Mora hiring Noel Mazzone, Arizona State's offensive coordinator the past two seasons, to bring his spread passing attack to Westwood. He thinks Mazzone and Bruins quarterback Kevin Prince will work well together.
Mazzone has a hyper-aggressive on-field philosophy that in many ways mimics what Mike Martz has done at the NFL level. Over the course of his coaching career, this mindset has yielded two quarterbacks who have set NCAA records in passing efficiency (Stu Patridge and Ben Leard) and led to Philip Rivers winning a passer efficiency title.
Mazzone may have a shot to replicate that success in 2012 with Prince. The evidence for this can be found in how Prince fared in a recent analysis I did on quarterbacks who have a good shot at making a Robert Griffin III-like breakthrough in 2012.
This study reviewed how many times a non-senior passer posted a 150 passer rating or a nine-yard or higher yards per attempt mark against teams from BCS-qualifying conferences. Prince had three instances of each, making him one of only 16 non-senior quarterbacks to rack up a total of that caliber, and that was despite missing two games against BCS-qualifying opponents. Mazzone won't have to get much improvement from Prince to put the Bruins offense near the top of the FBS.
Of course, not all Bruins fans share Joyner's enthusiasm for Prince. Between him and backup Richard Brehaut, it seemed that Brehaut was the more consistent passer, but Prince retained the starting job because he was a far more effective runner in the Bruins' pistol offense.
While I share Joyner's belief that Mazzone was a good hire for Mora, I'd bet that the spring practice competition between Prince, Brehaut, who might ruin his chances by playing baseball, and touted redshirt freshman Brett Hundley could be interesting.