Answer Friday: Here’s Part 1 of 3

Your first batch of answers brought to you by my sausage & egg McMuffin

Do you see this team winning 9 games if all goes as planned? Is 10 out of the question?
I can easily see eight games, and nine or 10 games is not out of the question the more I see this team perform in games and how they carry themselves at practice. You see their demeanor is all business-like. They have the talent to get it done and the right coach to get them there.

Can we keep our assistants for years to come based on what we are paying them? Can we head into the end of the season undefeated?
I think it starts with UCLA’s higher-ups. If the administration wants this program to be a real football program in serious contention then they’re gonna have to start writing checks to keep this group united. Of course, some offers are too good to refuse, but I don’t see why the current administration wouldn’t want to keep this group intact. They operatate with such cohesion, and most importantly they are having fun doing their job. The way the Pac-12 is going right now, heading to the season finale undefeated may be an improbable task, but not impossible. As the season progresses we’re seeing teams rise and really make a name for themselves. Oregon State, Cal, Arizona among them. Again, tough, but not impossible.

From your observation, without having to disclose to many details, do the players really seem to be buying in to Jim Mora’s system, or are they just satisfied since they are winning? In other words, does the demeanor during practice seem like the players are REALLY bought in?
The quick answer is a resounding yes. These Bruins aren’t just going with the flow because they’re 3-0. They don’t have a “wait and see” approach. Not anymore. Maybe they had that approach back in December when Jim Mora was hired, but I can’t imagine that thought process didn’t go out the window after Mora waved good bye to the so-called Over The Wall “tradition”. It continued through spring camp and well into fall camp where this Bruins team cemented. I don’t think they saw it coming, the chemistry building so quickly inspite of being in such a tough environment and in the middle of nowhere. UCLA’s definitely bought into what Mora’s selling. If you look at every position there’s a a leader who holds everyone accountable, just like Mora with his staff. It starts at the top, and it’s trickled its way down to the players.

What can you tell us about the UCLA BOOM started by Coach Meat? When will the fans get to participate? Can you see it becoming UCLA’s “War Eagle”?
I didn’t get a chance to ask Coach Martin about it, but I certainly will next time I see him. I saw the video myself, and if you’re not pumped to strap on the pads and a helmet after watching then you need to seriously check yourself. I can definitely see fans taking part in it, and why not start now? You see UCLA on the jumbotron when they’re getting ready to walk out the locker room. So when you see them cry out “BOOM!” follow it up with the next one and keep it going til they reach the field.

Any news on the basketball team and the recent investigations by the NCAA?
There was a recent report that suggested Kyle Anderson would soon be cleared, at least that’s what was reported. I’m not sure about Shabazz Muhammad or Tony Parker, and you can imagine the difficulty in juggling two primary sports. Nevertheless, it’s huge news, which means I have to get on it. I’ll keep you posted and do my best to sprinkle basketball news until their season starts in November.

When will Gold’s name be removed from the masthead?
I keep getting asked the same question, and my answer is I don’t know what it is that others see that I don’t see. For example, when I log on to this blog on my iPad and on my iPhone I don’t see Gold’s name. But when I log on through a laptop or PC you do see his name. I hear you have to clear your cookies and the name disappears. If you haven’t noticed, my name’s been added to the left side under the “About this blog” section. I really hope you guys stop giving Jon Gold a difficult time. He’s been a huge help since I’ve been filling in and I can’t thank him enough.

What’s the biggest surprise out of this team so far?
That’s a tough one. I think it has to start with the offense, how they’ve clicked on all cylinders. After struggling to put up points last year they’re now the No. 2-rated offense in the nation with the nation’s leading rusher. Just impressive how this young group was able to conform to Noel Mazzone’s new spread offense and really thrive from the start, literally. Also, it’s been a pleasant surprise (for some of us) to see guys who switch position thrive. The biggest example, of course, is Anthony Barr, whom I covered once when he was a senior at Loyola.

What is the hold up with Gene giving you the permanent gig? I gave him my personal recommendation!
Ha, ha. Thanks man and I appreciate the love everyone’s shown me in these last couple months. I know this because my followers on Twitter spiked from the 700’s to now 2,616 in less than two months. If I’m being totally honest, I have a meeting with the top editors next week to discuss the position. Time to make a trip to the dry cleaners.

I didn’t see the game on Saturday (damn you DirectTV). Can you expand on how Torian White struggled and why Mora was asked that?
Torian White, a freshman, was penalized four times, three of which came on consecutive plays in the fourth quarter: a holding and two false starts. He was taken out afterwards, but Mora was encouraged by White holding himself accountable and making it clear it was something that wasn’t going to happen again. I have to say, Torian White is one of the smartest players I’ve ever interviewed. The kid has tremendous poise and is smart about the game. He’s also extremely polite.

Did Jeremy Castro clear NCAA? If not, will his scholarship be given to current walk-on?
No answer there. Jim Mora is asked now and then about his status, along with Javon Williams, and all we get back is that they’re still in the process of gaining clearance. Published reports have indicated Castro needs to an acceptable ACT score to gain admittance. My assumption is that if he doesn’t get the necessary score then that means no scholarship, and he wouldn’t get to walk-on to a school he’s not admitted to.

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