Weekly Q&A — 10/22/13 Answers

Q: Let’s say UCLA wins the South again: If we were to play UofO a second time, and they beat us and went undefeated, advancing to the National Championship game, would we automatically be selected to play in the Rose Bowl as the Pac-12 runner-up?

A: Not automatically, and not likely. First of all, UCLA must win nine games and be among the top 14 teams in the BCS rankings to qualify for an at-large selection. The Bruins would have at least three losses if it loses to Oregon twice, so staying that highly ranked would be difficult. Also, no more than two teams from the same conference can make it unless two non-champions somehow end up No. 1 and 2. UCLA would need two close losses to Oregon, and be a more attractive candidate than Stanford assuming both are at-large BCS qualifiers.

A top-12 team from the MAC, C-USA, Mountain West or Sun Belt would also automatically qualify and take up a BCS bowl slot. Fresno State (Mountain West) and Northern Illinois (MAC) are both undefeated and currently rank No. 17 and 18, respectively. If either one moves into the top 12, it would automatically fill an empty Rose Bowl slot. A Pac-12 runner-up could then be picked for a different BCS bowl, which happened after the 2010 season: undefeated TCU went to the Rose Bowl and one-loss Stanford went to the Orange Bowl.

Wisconsin got to Pasadena with five losses last year, but it was the Big Ten champion. No. 13 Illinois, which got to the 2008 Rose Bowl with three losses, is the only team to ever earn an at-large BCS bid with more than two losses.

There are more rules surrounding the selection process — which you can read here — but a three-loss UCLA team would need a lot of breaks to make the Rose Bowl.

Q: I assumed that cornerback Ishmael Adams, who seems to be playing well, is a redshirt freshman because he played sparingly in two games last season and then sat out with a shoulder injury. But UCLA lists him as a sophomore. Did he not qualify for a redshirt season?

A: He will get that season back with a medical waiver, so he’s basically playing as a redshirt freshman right now. He and the school can apply for that at any time, however, which is why he’s listed as a sophomore.

Q: Do you agree our defense was pretty spectacular last Saturday? Brett Hundley has never had two bad games under 200 passing in back to back weeks. Do you expect him to rebound in a big way and for us to establish the run early against Oregon?

A: It was good, but not spectacular. Stanford could’ve had another touchdown if Ty Montgomery had caught that 51-yard bomb on the game’s opening drive. I’m not sold that Hundley or the run game will have big days given the state of the offensive line, and the fact that Oregon has a very good defense.

Q: Has there been any further discussion around the low snaps and plans to fix? Seems whatever was previously discussed has not worked and this appeared to be a big problem against Stanford.

A: Center Jake Brendel said this week that he wasn’t sure what the exact problem is, but insisted it will be fixed. Not the most encouraging words. He also denied that he had any sort of hand injury that could be affecting his snap.

Q: Not that Brett Hundley has suddenly forgotten to play the quarterback position, but his mechanics and decision-making seem a bit out of whack the last couple of games. What gives?

A: It looks like playing behind a struggling offensive line is starting to sit in the back of his mind. Not entirely surprising after he took 52 sacks last season, but also not something that UCLA can live with if it wants to reach a Rose Bowl.

Q: During the Stanford game, there appeared to be several single blitzers that were routinely unaccounted for in the Bruin pass protection. Is this something that BH is not picking up before the ball is snapped? Or is he calling it out but the O-line (or running back when it is not an empty backfield) is failing to get to the blitzer in time? Or just tip the cap to Stanford for a well-disguised blitz scheme?

A: More than anything, I think it was the offensive line just getting overwhelmed by the Stanford defense. There were certain plays where Hundley eluded a corner blitz, but couldn’t get past a second or third defender that had — by that point — broken past the line and into the backfield.

Q: What was with the conservative play calling in the Stanford game? Young line; jeeze, that’s getting old. Hundley looked bad, except for the one scoring drive. How worried should we be as fans?

A: Noel Mazzone’s playcalling was fairly lackluster even when accounting for injuries. But having two true freshmen on the offensive line does somewhat limit options. I’d be pretty worried now that three true freshmen could be starting. Moving Xavier Su’a-Filo to left tackle is good for protecting Hundley, but also keeps him from pulling on some of UCLA’s run plays.

Q: Is UCLA actively recruiting USC de-commit D.J. Calhoun? If so what’s his status?

A: In the picture, but UCLA is prioritizing some guys like Rashaan Evans right now.

Q: Can we expect a lot of playing time for Norman Powell/Jordan Adams/Kyle Anderson lineup, or will Steve Alford really give big minutes to Bryce? Do you see Tony Parker or David Wear starting at center?

A: Right now, it looks like Kyle Anderson will get the majority of minutes at point guard, so a lineup with him, Powell and Adams seems reasonable. Bryce will probably get most of the ballhandling reps that Anderson doesn’t take. I’d guess Wear for now, but not for too long if Parker’s conditioning was really the only thing he needed. Steve Alford has talked a bit about giving veterans the chance to earn starting spots.

Q: Why are UCLA’s football cheers so weak? “Bruin Spell Outs” and “Go Bruins,” is that all we can come up with?

A: I don’t know if I’m the best person to answer that question. Maybe ask the guy next to you at the Rose Bowl.