Mazzone injecting life into once-stagnant offense

The tale of the 2009 ASU offense comes from the crypt.

The Sun Devils ranked 90th in the country in yards per game last year and while ASU was last in Pac-10 attendance; its offense was most assuredly near the top of any subjective list for boos received by home team fans.

Meet the Sun Devils’ defibrillator:  new offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone.

With each toot of his whistle, each sprightly demonstration of technique and each dictate of tactic, the fully-charged drill sergeant shocks back to life an offense that in combination with the 2008 offense, averaged fewer combined yards than any other consecutive two year span since the 1966 and 1967 seasons.

“I think everybody should be excited to get on the field and play,” Mazzone said laughing. “I don’t know why they wouldn’t be excited because we are going to throw it and hand it to the backs, we are going to throw it to the receivers and we are going to try to keep the offensive lineman happy.”

Believing in the system accounts for a major difference between this year and last year, senior wide receiver Kerry Taylor said.

“It’s just coaching, really,” Taylor said. “Schemes we were doing last year on offense were real simple and predictable, this year it is more upbeat and fast and keeping defenses off balance, letting the playmakers make plays.

“The energy level is a lot better.  Guys are really buying into this system, giving a lot more effort this year.  We really believe in what we are doing this year and if we buy into it we will be in great position to win a lot of games.”

Mazzone’s offense seems to function under the premise that time is always running out.  Almost exclusively a no-huddle attack out of the shotgun, Mazzone believes it can utilize up to nine receivers (including backs and tight ends) in a single game.

“It is fun to watch because we have a little bit more speed than we have had offensively,” coach Dennis Erickson said.

Who takes charge of the new scheme, between quarterback and sophomore Brock Osweiler, junior Steve Threet and junior Samson Szakacsy remains a mystery.

Notes

Junior receiver Gerell Robinson returned to practice Tuesday after straining his hamstring nearly two weeks ago . . . Senior kicker Thomas Weber, coming off a year beset by injury, made five of six field goals attempts inside ASU’s practice bubble. His finals kicks, from 45 and 52 yards, would have likely been good from 60-65 yards as they hit either above or near the top of the fake goal posts.

Reach the reporter at nruland@asu.edu