Q: I have Holiday Bowl tickets. What does UCLA need to do to get into the Holiday Bowl?
A: It’ll be pretty tough because bowls generally don’t like inviting the same team back to back. Doesn’t help ticket sales. A lot still depends on how other teams do, but if UCLA wins out and then loses in the Pac-12 Championship, it will likely end up in the Alamo Bowl. Splitting these next two games probably equals a trip to the Sun Bowl, while losing the next two could mean Las Vegas or Kraft Fight Hunger. The bowls negotiate who to take, so the order of selection doesn’t necessarily line up with the power hierarchy.
Q: Is DeShaun Foster coaching for the team? I thought I saw him on the sidelines last game.
A: Yes, he assists with the running backs as a coaching intern.
Q: Did you read Kirk Herbstreit’s tweet saying that Texas should go after Jim Mora? Is the administration dedicated enough to support Mora and his vision for the future of UCLA football? I think next year we have a top-five team and are in prime position to be the first playoff team to win the first-ever “legitimate” national championship. Your thoughts?
A: I don’t see Mora leaving for another college job in the near future, especially not before he’s accomplished something truly significant at UCLA. He has a chance to become the first name that comes to mind when people mention Bruins football, and there aren’t many places better to live than Manhattan Beach. His son also plays soccer 50 miles east at Claremont McKenna. If the NFL comes calling again in a few years, that could be more tempting.
UCLA has top-five upside if everything breaks right, but let’s get to the end of this season first, shall we?
Q: In your opinion, is the Pac-12 closing the gap with the SEC? Seems like the Pac-12 is getting more recognition by the major outlets. If you made an all-star roster of SEC and Pac-12 players, what would your starting rosters be? Who wins the game?
A: The Pac-12 is clearly the second-best conference behind the SEC, mostly because of its superior depth. That won’t wrest away headlines as long as that league keeps its streak of seven national titles alive, though. It’d take much too long to make good all-conference teams for both the SEC and Pac-12 right now, but I’ll probably have a top-25 list for the latter at the end of the season.
Q: Is there any speculation as to what Devin Fuller’s undisclosed injury is? Could Steve Manfro or Damien Thigpen play?
A: I don’t know, but he dressed for practice and did not appear to be limping. Manfro and Thigpen are both questionable, though the latter is probably more likely to play.
Q: I was wondering if there were any questions to Jim Mora about accepting the holding penalty against Arizona in the fourth quarter, rather than leaving them with fourth-and-3. The next play B.J. Denker was picked off, but that horrible PI call made it first down. Arizona later scored and got back in the game.
A: Mora explained that he thought Rich Rodriguez would most likely try to convert the fourth down, and opted instead to forced the third-and-long. Also said he “second-guessed” that decision afterward.
Q: Any reason to be concerned about football recruiting thus far? National Signing Day 2014 is still a ways off, but the Bruins seem to be a bit off pace from recent years at least as far as class rankings go. Why so many DBs and WRs so far in the 2014 class?
A: I wouldn’t be concerned just because of how early it is, and how Jim Mora and his staff proved last year that it can close late. The Bruins still could use some more secondary depth, and a real game-breaking receiver. I’d also be surprised if every one of those defensive backs faxed in their NLIs.
Q: Do you subscribe to a premium site, such as Rivals, Scout or 247Sports? If so, any recommendation?
A: Try out either Rivals or Scout to see which one you prefer. I would not recommend going to 247 for UCLA news.
Q: Just wondering if there are some potential stars of the future emerging from the crop of guys who are redshirts this year. Who’s looking good? How does Craig Lee look and others?
A: Not many redshirts left, but keep an eye on Poasi Moala. Currently listed at 6-foot-4, 265 pounds, he has a chance to start at tackle once he goes through a full offseason of training and nutrition. Lee is a legitimate player too. Asiantii Woulard won’t see much burn next year unless Brett Hundley leaves, but he’s still the only other top-end quarterback talent on the roster.
Q: Why is there no ‘championship game’ for the Las Vegas Invitational? It’d be nice to see how Alford could do against Mizzou were both teams to make it that far.
A: A lot of preseason tournaments are structured that way to give all the participating teams a set number of games. You can read more about that here. UCLA still visits Missouri on Dec. 7.