Q: What happened to the Bruin run game on Saturday? Was it the O-line or the RBs fault for the low productivity? Will Jordon James be ready for the Stanford game?
A: I think the greater issues lay with the offensive line’s run blocking, though how much Cal stacked the box didn’t make things easier for the new starting five. The unit needs to find its cohesion again quickly without injured left tackle Torian White. I doubt James (still in a boot) will play at Stanford, but Paul Perkins should be productive as long as he has room to work with and runs hard early.
Q: I know a few weeks ago you had us losing to Stanford. Still feel the same way? Do we have the best front seven in the country?
A: I think Saturday will be a close game. I’ll make my official prediction later this week. I’d say UCLA has the best front seven in the Pac-12. I wouldn’t say it’s the best in the country, but it can make a strong case over the next two weekends.
Q: Heard you on ESPN before the Utah game. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I remember you saying at that time that you didn’t believe UCLA could challenge Stanford and Oregon, and would also likely struggle with Washington. Obviously a lot of football has been played since then. Have your feelings changed?
A: I said it was too early to say UCLA could challenge the two for the top of the Pac-12, yes. I think the gap between Oregon and the rest of the conference is still significant, but Stanford was obviously exposed a bit in its loss at Utah. For Washington, I meant specifically that the secondary would struggle against Keith Price relative to the quarterbacks it had faced at that point (Taylor Martinez, Cody Fajardo); the defensive backs have proven themselves more since.
Q: What did the Utah/Stanford game tell us about Stanford’s defense? Do you see us passing more to the outside?
A: Stanford is definitely suffering from injuries to what was supposed to be a stellar defensive line, and Utah stretched it out with all those swing passes. Noel Mazzone has plenty of those plays in his offense, so UCLA will likely use them often at Stanford.
Q: From what he says and what you have seen, is Jim Mora treating it seriously enough that UCLA continues to be one of the most penalized teams in the nation?
A: He trying, but I don’t think he’s decided on the best way to deal with the penalties. UCLA started bringing in officials in recent practices, but stopped this week. Mora said he decided to ignore penalties at halftime against Cal rather than ripping into the team, which drew just one more flag afterward. That may be the new tact.
Q: It’s pretty rare to see an Asian-American with the size and skills to warrant a four-star rating as well as play for a Division I football team like UCLA. Is Thomas Duarte cognizant of this and does he see himself as a potential role model for other Asian-American kids? Does he (and do you, Jack), believe it is significant at all?
A: Duarte is mixed-race: if I’m not mistaken, his father is Latino American and his mother is third-generation Japanese American. I think it’s great that kids of both those races will have a chance to see someone like them on a major college football team; it’s much easier to aspire to something when you can identify with a role model. I’m not sure how much he embraces the role. I’m guessing he prefers to be regarded just as a football player.
Q: Who is the fastest player on our football team? Not to say it’s Myles Jack, but he burned some serious rubber during his run back on the INT.
A: I might go with receiver Devin Fuller. The separation he gets sometimes is just absurd. Damien Thigpen would probably be in the conversation too if he hadn’t torn his ACL.
Q: I think Jordan Adams is the best player on our basketball team. Am I wrong? I have heard that this is Kyle Anderson’s last year. Would he really come out if he’s not projected in the 1st round?
A: Jordan Adams will certainly be the team’s No. 1 scorer, and should easily be top-five in the conference too. I’m curious to see if he’s developed his game in the offseason while working back from the broken foot. Kyle’s father seems very intent on making this his last season regardless of draft projection, though Kyle himself said he doesn’t want that to be a distraction to the team.
Q: What happened to Kevin McReynolds? Is he still learning to play OL or just buried in the (thin) depth chart? Does the coaching staff intends to use him more or even Ben Wysocki/Colby Cyburt/Carl Hulick (who could play more) with the injury of Torian White?
A: McReynolds is not a factor, and his concussion in fall camp didn’t help him much either. Don’t expect to see him get any snaps this season. Wysocki and Hulick will get some reps off the bench at guard, but true freshman Scott Quessenberry has passed the latter as the team’s No. 2 center. Offensive line coach Adrian Klemm still wants to redshirt him if possible, however.
Q: Why does Jim Mora alternate Ka’imi Fairbairn and Sean Covington for kickoffs?
A: They both have the leg for it. Also, Fairbairn right-footed and Covington is left-footed, which allows for some situational flexibility depending on what UCLA wants to do with its kick coverage.
Q: Do you think Dennis Erickson would be a better coach for the Bears?
A: Erickson may be better off as an offensive coordinator at this point in his career. I think Mike MacIntyre would be a better coach for Cal, but the Bears would be awful this year under almost any coach. Jeff Tedford didn’t leave a lot of talent on the roster, and a lot of the players he did leave have gone down with injuries.