Q&A: Mid-spring camp — 4/12/15 Answers

Q: Does Josh Rosen really look like he can play this season. Or is the media really hyping it up too much … truthfully?

A: I honestly think he’s looked like UCLA’s best quarterback through two weeks.

Q: What’s your take on how much better Rosen would have to be to make burning his redshirt worth it? If he’s going to be only slightly better than Jerry Neuheisel or Asiantii Woulard, then maybe it’s best to keep his year of eligibility.

A: Quantifying differences into clear “start or not start” thresholds is tricky, but if Rosen can translate what he’s done in practices into real games, I think that’s more than enough to make burning that redshirt worthwhile. Neuheisel makes good decisions, but his limited arm strength limits his potential as a starter. Woulard has talent, but hasn’t looked as good as Rosen this spring — and that’s after two-plus years in the program.

If Rosen does start, then UCLA also has the ideal roster to surround a true freshman behind center. The entire offensive line is intact, and basically every significant receiver and running back returns too. Jordan Payton said after the Alamo Bowl that whoever replaces Brett Hundley will get the keys to a Ferrari. That remains a good metaphor for the Bruins’ offensive situation.

Q: If we assume Rosen likely locks down the starting QB job, is Neuheisel still holding down the No. 2 spot on the depth chart or has Woulard displayed enough consistency to close the gap?

A: I think I’d still give Neuheisel the edge at No. 2, but Woulard did very well to end the second week of spring camp. I wouldn’t rule him out.

Q: From your observation, as a whole, which position group on offense and defensive seem to be the weakest? Continue reading

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Q&A: March Madness edition — 3/24/15 Answers

Q: What is the over/under on the number of times CBS/Tru/ESPN will reference “Heart….Break….City” between Wednesday and game time?

A: My very scientific analysis puts it at 27.

Q: Snowball’s chance in hell of beating Gonzaga, a team which Mark Few states is the best he has coached?

A: kenpom.com gives UCLA a 23 percent chance of pulling the upset, which feels right to me. I don’t think the Bruins really have an answer for Kyle Wiltjer, though.

Q: Do you lend credence to the sentiment UCLA should not have been selected to participate in this year’s tourney?

A: Talking purely about the quality of basketball the Bruins were playing at the end of the season, I think it’s clear they deserved to be in the field. But there were clear questions about their overall resume — particularly their inability to win on the road — which is why I, like many others, didn’t think they would actually earn a spot come Selection Sunday.

I think UCLA proved it deserved a spot by beating SMU. Goaltending call or not, the Bruins outplayed the Mustangs for most of the game before giving up 19 unanswered points. (Still crazy to look at that number!) Beating UAB isn’t particularly impressive since the Bruins were so much more talented, but you do what you need to get to the Sweet 16.

Q: Playing the “what if” game: What if the goaltending wasn’t called? SMU tips the shot ball by Alford, and Kevon Looney gets the rebound. Continue reading

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Weekly Q&A — 12/23/14 Answers

Q: Brett Hundley is a great QB, but he didn’t seem to progress substantially from last year to this year. With UCLA starting a new QB next year and with Josh Rosen enrolling early, do you think they need more help in the QB coaching department going forward?

A: Hundley has not developed as much as some people may have hoped through his three years at UCLA, but I still wonder a bit whether that’s due more to the coaching staff or to Hundley’s own shortcomings. There’s no doubting he has all the physical tools and is capable of “wow” moments; he might just need some more time before everything clicks, and if that happens in the NFL, I think it would be an indictment on the Bruins’ staff not being able to do more with him.

But Rosen does give the staff another chance to prove it can mold a new quarterback. I think they deserve a year to show they can.

Q: Pretend like Hundley was coming back next year (I know he’s not). Is there any question that UCLA would start the year ranked in the top five?

A: Under the “Hundley returns” hypothetical, UCLA would have a chance at being a preseason top-five team if it puts a beatdown on Kansas State in the Alamo Bowl — but even then, I wouldn’t put money on it. Voters feel burned after buying into what was supposed to be a playoff contender, and wouldn’t be likely to pick the Bruins that high again for the second year in a row.

Q: Who do you think will be a bigger star next year, Paul Perkins or Jordan Payton? Continue reading

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Weekly Q&A — 12/16/14 Answers

Q: How is UCLA doing with their allotment of Alamo Bowl tickets? Any estimate as to how many Bruins will be in San Antonio for the bowl game?

A: I don’t have estimates on tickets sold yet, but the Alamo Bowl contract allots 6,000 tickets to the Pac-12 representative and 12,000 tickets to the Big 12 team.

Q: Has Jim Mora said anything about the ridiculous suggestions that he might be the next Michigan head coach?

A: He hasn’t made any public statements, but he’s not going anywhere. Don’t even worry about it.

Q: In your opinion, with regard to football, who was the most underachieving player and who was the breakout player this season? As of now, who do you think will the breakout player next season?

A: I think the biggest underachiever was Fabian Moreau, even though he turned things around a bit in the second half and was still made the All-Pac-12 second team. But he looked so, so impressive during camp, and coupling the eye test with the “All-American” hype that Jim Mora gave him just set the bar too high.

For simplicity, let’s define “breakout” as someone who played at least sparingly this season making a big jump — i.e., no Josh Rosen. It wouldn’t shock me if everything clicks for Moreau, but freshman Jaleel Wadood seems like a safe bet to take over Anthony Jefferson’s vacated spot in the secondary. I still like Thomas Duarte to put up some big numbers if he can stay healthy.

Q: Looking back on Stanford game week, did you sense any sort of letdown by the Bruins leading up to the game? Or did the Bruins simply suffer the misfortune of facing a Stanford team that everyone thought would show up before the 2014 season started? Continue reading

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