Weekly Answers, Pt. 3

Check out the latest batch of weekly answers…

1) I noted 7 teams of the Pac-10 receive votes in the preseason ESPN Power Ranking. What do you think of that and how it reflect on UCLA being voted #8 in the conference? – Bruin ’05
I think that it’s a jumbled mess in the Pac-10 this season, and there is very little separating the top few teams. I think UCLA is ranked about where it should be, given the losses it suffered, but I do think people are underestimating the increase of talent over the last couple years, particularly in the depth issue. When people come out with preseason rankings, they only look at starters, and really, they only focus on a few key positions when coming to their conclusion. Washington isn’t exactly a team of Hall of Famers, but they have a great quarterback, and clearly, that goes a long way. Same with Stanford. Who cares if UCLA has a better safety, they’ll say. But I had a long talk with Clark Lea about this: As more talent comes in, it’s evident in special teams, in depth, in offensive and defensive creativity. That’s what ultimately tips the scales. So if the Bruins get steady quarterback and offensive line play, and the defense plays about how it did last season, I think they’ll surprise people.

2) Is this new pistol offense similar to the shotgun type of offense Homer Smith used in the 80s at UCLA? How is this offense different than Oregon’s? – AnonymousI wouldn’t really compare it to the Homer Smith shotgun, but it’s a little like Oregon’s. The key here is simple: It’s a shotgun hybrid, with the QB closer to the line of scrimmage, so there’s a quicker snap and a faster read. It’s essentially the option from a spread offense. The key here is the incorporation of the zone-blocking scheme, which UCLA used to an extent last year, and will get refined now. If executed well, it doesn’t matter who you have up front, because it’s only about getting a body on a body.

3) Which of the returners have looked the most improved thus far in camp? Which of the frosh have looked better than expected? Worse? – BruinJD
A little confused, so ask this again next week. Do you mean kick returners, or guys who are returning from last year’s team. Regarding the freshmen, Dietrich Riley is more than impressive, as is Jordan Zumwalt. I think Zumwalt’s a couple years away just based on size and bulk, but he’ll be a beast. Malcolm Jones and Anthony Barr have exceeded my expectations, even though I had my biggest expectations for those two guys.

4) What do you think UCLA’s record will be this year? I seem to recall you projected 5-7. Is this correct? – UW Fan
I projected 6-6 or 7-5 (or 7-6). Probable wins over Houston, Arizona State, Washington State and Kansas State, flip games against Washington, Arizona and Stanford and probable losses against Texas, Oregon, Oregon State, USC and Cal.

5) At this point, what do you think they finish in 2011? (I would say 8-4). – UW Fan
If everyone stays healthy, and the normal attrition happens at the other schools, anything less than eight wins is a massive underperformance. Nine wins could happen.