Five questions: Austin American-Statesman’s Ryan Autullo talks Texas

In what was supposed to be its first marquee game of the season, UCLA heads to AT&T Stadium to face a Texas squad coming off a 41-7 beating by BYU. Ryan Autullo, who covers Texas for the Austin-American Statesman, answered five questions about the Longhorns.

1. What are the most significant ways that first-year head coach Charlie Strong has changed the program since he arrived?

Strong is trying to eliminate the culture of entitlement that ultimately signaled the downfall of his predecessor, Mack Brown. Under Brown, players rode an air-conditioned bus a half mile to practice. Now they walk. Until late in preseason camp, Strong forbade players from flashing the Horns hand sign. Additionally, the coach ordered the removal of the Longhorns logo from helmets. It’s all about getting tougher as a program and understanding the value of playing at Texas, Strong says.

2. Of all the players Strong has dismissed/suspended, which ones do the Longhorns miss the most?

Great question. I’d say suspensions to offensive tackles Kennedy Estelle and Desmond Harrison hurt the most. Continue reading

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Five questions: 92.9 FM ESPN’s John Martin talks Memphis

UCLA opens its home schedule on Saturday as heavy favorite again, this time preparing to host a Memphis team that hasn’t had a winning season since 2007. John Martin, a columnist and producer for 92.9 FM ESPN, took the time to answer five questions about the Tigers.

1. How do Memphis fans feel about Justin Fuente’s tenure so far? He hasn’t had a winning season yet, but has the program noticeably improved since he arrived?

I think that most Memphis fans are as cautiously optimistic about Fuente as they’ll allow themselves to be. There is a sense of fatalism with the Memphis program, you know. If there’s a football coach here who’s left on his own terms, I can’t think of him. Line ‘em up, knock ‘em down; it’s hard to succeed at Memphis. That history is documented.

With Fuente, it feels different. Since he got the job, I’ve always had the sense he knows football. Like, he’s a real football coach. When Larry Porter, the last guy, was hired, you knew within 30 seconds of his opening press conference that he was in way over his head. Fuente played football at the highest level as a quarterback, which I think gives him an increased understanding of the game.

Beyond that, he’s majorly responsible for the development of Andy Dalton at TCU. Dalton, of course, just signed a $115 million contract. So he has real credibility in that arena, which most Memphis coaches in the past did not come to Memphis with.

As far as the program itself, I know a 3-9 record last season was worse than Fuente’s first year. But it was an awkward situation with senior quarterback and Texas Tech transfer Jacob Karam sitting on the bench behind redshirt freshman Paxton Lynch. In many ways, the locker room was split. And I think some of the upperclassmen who have now exited the program had a lot to do with how the team finished last season. Continue reading

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Five questions: Daily Progress’ Andrew Ramspacher talks Virginia

Leading up to UCLA’s season opener this Saturday at 9 a.m. PT, who better to scout the opponent than a Virginia beat writer? Andrew Ramspacher of The Daily Progress in Charlottesville took the time to answer five questions about the Cavaliers.

How hot is Mike London’s seat right now? Is there a rough performance bar he has to clear in order to keep his job?

You go 6-20 in your last 26 games, you have declining attendance (see an expected crowd in the mid-40,000s Saturday) and you struggle to handle the quarterback situation, your seat is obviously going to be hot. There’s no doubt Mike London is facing some serious heat this season. It’s his fifth year at UVa and the program has gone in the opposite direction after a 2011 campaign in which he took ACC Coach of the Year honors and guided the Cavaliers to eight wins and a trip to the Chick-fil-A Bowl.

Virginia administration, despite multiple requests, has chosen to remain mum on the situation, not publicly stating a bar. But I would believe six wins would keep London for a sixth year. Continue reading

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