Check out the latest batch of weekly answers…
1) Who will be the offensive and defensive breakout stars this year? I’m looking at Riley and Barr. – Ben G
In terms of national recognition, I think Johnathan Franklin is poised for a major season. There aren’t very many “name” backs returning in the Pac-12 – after Oregon’s LaMichael James and Washington’s Chris Polk, come Franklin’s 1127 yards – and Franklin has looked fantastic in the spring. He seems to be learning the position better and better, something I know he’s worked hard on. In terms of offensive players who I think are noticably better: Ricky Marvray, Richard Brehaut, Morrell Presley – as a tight end, where he should be playing – and Stan Hasiak. Barr is very athletic, but he still doesn’t have a natural position, and I need to see him emerge somewhere first.
Defensively, Tony Dye and Datone Jones are poised for big seasons, and I think Sean Westgate will have a lot of production, too. Damien Holmes has been a constant presence, and could turn into an efficient starter before a potential breakout season in ’12. Riley is a year away from being just a monster on defense, and Tevin McDonald looks really good. Then there’s Eric Kendricks, who I’m going to be watching closely, just as I watched Marvray and Jordon James last year.
2) Do you have any insight into the criteria Neuheisel uses to determine whether a player should redshirt? I was extremely frustrated 2 years ago when CRN burned Brehaut’s redshirt possibilities by using him for 30-odd plays when he also still had Craft on the roster. Obviously Craft was nothing to be excited about, but I can’t imagine how getting Brehaut those plays has positively affected his development in any way. If you have a stud freshman who will get significant playing time or who is the primary backup, it makes sense to get him PT when possible to prepare for injury; but I’d hate to see CRN do the same thing with Hundley. If Prince comes back healthy and Brehaut (or Prince) wins the job outright in the Fall, wouldn’t it serve everyone’s interests to have Hundley redhsirt? I know CRN needs to win this year, but as a Bruin supporter, I would much rather go into 2012 with 2 senior QBs and a clear heir apparent who is a redshirt freshman. – UCLA Bruinfan
Couldn’t agree with you more. I never understood not redshirting Brehaut, and I’ve long said that you only burn a kid’s redshirt if he plays a prominent role, essentially in the two-deep rotation. Cassius Marsh, you had to use him as a freshman. Dietrich Riley, yeah, he’s ready to see the field. So was Jordan Zumwalt. With Hundley, if they develop a package for him like Florida did with Tim Tebow in his freshman year, I get it. If they put him in there in garbage time against Washington State, I don’t.
3) Two Weeks into spring camp, who are some players that have you impressed and who are some that you expected more from? – Bruinfan123
Question one probably took care of the guys who’ve impressed me – but also add Marsh, Donovan Carter, Isaiah Bowens, Iuta Tepa on defense and James and Joseph Fauria on offense. Guys who I expected to see more from are Kai Maiava, Nelson Rosario, Malcolm Jones, Owa Odighizuwa, Jordan Zumwalt and Sheldon Price. I have high expectations for that group.
4) How does the d-line look? In particular Graham, Marsh, Owa, and Willis if he is still there? Who is really stepping up? – Anonymous
Graham is hurt, Marsh looks good, Owa shows flashes but needs to be more consistent and Willis is not there. Donovan Carter and Damien Holmes have stepped up, and Datone Jones is a stalwart.
5) And after seeing flashes last year from both Hester and Price is this the year they breakout? – Anonymous
Both have looked solid in the spring, but nothing has really stood out. Hester is using his body a lot better this year, though, and seems to consistently be in better position. Price is a little thicker, but he plays the ball well. I still like Courtney Viney, too.