Weekly Q&A — 9/16/13 Answers

Q: Why does Jerry Neuheisel wear #39 on the sidelines then switch to #11 when he comes in at quarterback (he did this in the Nevada game)?

Anthony Barr (also No. 11) is on the kick team, so Neuheisel wears No. 39 on when he holds kicks.

Q: Did Priest Willis play v. Nebraska? If not, are we going to see him this year or is he going to redshirt?

Willis played late in the game on special teams. Jim Mora didn’t want to rush him back since he didn’t play in the season opener due to injury.

Q: Any fallout from Tahaan Goodman’s tweet about not being good enough to play vs. Nebraska?

Not too significant, though coaches talked to him about it. An 18-year-old should get a mulligan for not thinking through his tweets.

Q: Has there been any talk about Brett Hundley leaving after this year for the NFL draft?

He’s a legitimate prospect already, and you’ll only see the national attention grow as the season goes on. I still think he stays unless he’s a sure top-five pick, but even then I could see him returning the way Sam Bradford and Andrew Luck did. The argument that he shouldn’t chance injury or seeing his stock drop (a la Matt Barkley, Matt Leinart) is legitimate, but I feel like Hundley’s tools are impressive enough that the risk of the latter is low.

Q: Your best guess whether Xavier Su’a-Filo comes back for his senior year?

Gut says he stays.

Q: What is the status on the return of Damien Thigpen?

He took off his red jersey last week, but is still wearing a brace on his left knee. He has a chance to return to play at Utah in two weeks, but that’s the most optimistic timetable.

Q: It is only two games into the season but based on your observations from Camp San Berdoo to now, who has been the biggest surprise on the field thus far? Safe to presume this upcoming NMSU game was made as a kind gesture to former UCLA DC DeWayne Walker when he was head coach for the Aggies?

I might go with Jordon James. I wasn’t sold on him being a consistent 100-yard back in August, but he’s done it twice now and looked good along the way. I think Noel Mazzone’s offense does help backs put up numbers, but James was in that same offense a year ago and averaged 3.3 3.5 yards per game. I’d mention Myles Jack too, but how good he looked in camp makes his performance a little less surprising.

The DeWayne Walker connection is a good guess, but I don’t know for sure.

Q: Are we trying to fill a full 25-man recruiting class this year (football), or are we nearing the overall scholarship limit and as such signing a smaller class (like Stanford last year)?

The class may be a little smaller given how much talent they reeled in this past cycle, but I don’t think it will be as small as Stanford’s. The Cardinal only landed a dozen players, including a four-star safety whose enrollment is delayed by a Mormon mission.

Q: Did Steve Alford purposefully miss out on point guards so that he would be “forced” to play his son? And has the fact that he has a PG son driven PG recruits away?

No. You don’t purposely turn down talent if you want to keep your job long-term — absurd contract security or not. Some recruits could be turned off by the idea of nepotism, even if it’s only perceived, but I don’t think it’s the primary factor.

Q: What do you anticipate the end result being with Jackie Robinson Stadium? Even if the court decision stands, could UCLA work out a new deal with the VA, since UCLA is only using a small portion of the total land at issue?

I don’t think they’ll be evicted this season regardless of the final ruling; an appeal would push up against the start of the season, and I think a judge would at least give tenants time to arrange for a move. If the ruling does stand, I wouldn’t be surprised if UCLA manages to work out a deal to stay. That said, I’m not yet familiar enough with the case to be sure.

Q: I know we have a very young team. That being said. I think we have a great shot to be 5-0 heading into the Stanford game. How good can this team be this year? And the future could be scary good for UCLA couldn’t it?

5-0 heading into Stanford doesn’t tell us too much more about this team. They look easily capable of that, but still need to prove they can do more with strong performances against both the Cardinal and Oregon. I think this year’s ceiling is a Rose Bowl, but I wouldn’t bet on that happening. UCLA still needs to make another jump to become a great team; they’re at “very good” right now.

Q: After these two games, have you evaluated your season projections? If yes, Are we playing at the Rose Bowl on Jan. 6?

I predicted 10 wins including a bowl win, and I’d stick with that right now. I’m not convinced they can knock off either Stanford or Oregon, so I wouldn’t slot them into my Rose Bowl projection.

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  • Bruin 34

    Did anybody see the ABC7 post game highlight video vs. Nebraska? Absolutely unbelievable! You gotta check it out! Go Bruins!

  • SonOfWestwood

    Stanford has yet to impress this season, we’ll know more about our Rose Bowl chances after their matchup with ASU this weekend. If we can beat Stanford (along with UW, ASU, and suc), then it’s possible to lose to Oregon twice and still make the Rose Bowl.

  • EncinitasBruin

    Unless SC improves drastically, the Pac-12 South title race is between UCLA and ASU. My projections for conf play: Wins – Utah, Cal, Stanford (finally), Colo, Ariz, Wash (they’re very good, but we have them at home); Loss – Oregon. Toss-ups – ASU, USC ( at the Coliseum, even an inferior SC team is going to be hard to beat – their D is very good). I believe we will be 6-0 going into Autzen on 10/26. Remember last year we played very well in Palo Alto, and were one missed FG away from forcing overtime for a potential Rose Bowl bid. Getting the revenge W against the Trees this year.

  • UCLA Owns the Rose Bowl

    Getting Damien Thigpen back for conference play would be huge. With Thiggy’s freakish speed and impeccable ability to catch balls out of the backfield, our backfield goes to an even higher level. Safe to say that so far, Joystick is the sweetest surprise on O – with he and Thigpen back there, mixing in Jones (who I think should be getting more reps), Perkins, and Iese, we went from having a question RB crew preseason, to a very strong one in season.

  • Sam C

    Informative Jack thank you