Weekly Q&A: Arizona answers

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With the way the Bruins secondary has performed (Denzel Fisher and Nate Meadors, in particular), why hasn’t Brandon Burton seen the field more?

If Brandon Burton didn’t get moved to linebacker, he still wouldn’t be in line to replace Denzel Fisher or Nate Meadors because Burton was a safety and Fisher and Meadors are both playing corner. UCLA is deep at safety with Jaleel Wadood, Adarius Pickett, Will Lockett, Octavius Spencer and Mossi Johnson. Johnson especially has emerged in recent weeks and coaches are starting to give him more defensive reps based on the toughness and tackling ability he showed on special teams.

UCLA is a lot thinner at linebacker than at defensive back, so that’s why Burton wouldn’t move back at this time. It’s possible that Burton may still need time to adjust to the position change he made during the spring or he may be dealing with a minor injury that’s keeping him from the field.

Fisher was the target of three defensive holding penalties against Colorado when he came in to replace Darnay Holmes, who was ejected for targeting. That’s a problem. But he was replaced by Colin Samuel, who immediately got a pass breakup on his first drive. Depending on how he followed up that game in practice the past two weeks, Samuel could be in line for a few more snaps on game day, I think.

Meadors has been the recipient of several pass interference flags, but he seems to be a sure tackler and Pro Football Focus had him ranked among the best Pac-12 cornerbacks after the Colorado game. So while he hasn’t been perfect, he’s probably not as bad as you’re thinking.


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Weekly Q&A: Arizona

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Greetings, friends.

We’re back after the bye week and ready for your UCLA football questions as the Bruins prepare to face Arizona on Saturday in Tucson at 6 p.m. Leave your questions in the comments below — or shoot me at email at thnguyen(at)scng(dot)com — and I’ll post answers THURSDAY.

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Weekly Q&A: Colorado answers

What do you contribute the Bruins inability to stop the run?  Are we lacking size or strength or is it the defensive scheme? 

I think there’s a lack of size, especially on the inside, after the departures of Eddie Vanderdoes and Eli Ankou. But I think the main thing is a lack of experience, which results in a lack of trust (more on that here). Everyone on this defense was a hero for his high school team at one point in time. No hero is super enough to save this defense alone, so it’s necessary that everyone sticks to perfecting their assignment and when that happens, the defense can become more than the sum of its parts. At least that’s what the Bruins are hoping. This type of defense only works when everyone does the right thing at the same time every time. It’s a thin line to traverse, but this is the way the Bruins have to live without players like Jayon Brown and Takkarist McKinley, who could very easily erase mistakes from the teammates. Continue reading “Weekly Q&A: Colorado answers” »

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Weekly Q&A: Stanford answers

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Links for the day:

Now to your questions:

Any chance Mique Juarez makes an impact at linebacker this year? 

I don’t think so. He was expected to play a lot as a true freshman coming out of high school, but he’s not the same player after that one year off. He’s trying to recapture that and I think it’s still possible, but it took a lot of years to build him into the five-star prospect he was and it’ll take some time to rebuild that. He likely has a long way to go to get on defense, but he plays every week on special teams.

Even with the injuries to linebacker, Juarez likely won’t be called into action because of the different linebacker positions. He was the No. 2 middle linebacker during training camp and UCLA doesn’t go too deep at that position because Lokeni Toailoa rests naturally during the nickel package. And the Bruins hope to get Kenny Young back soon, who would play that position if Toailoa is hurt. (I wouldn’t count on Young for this week, but eventually he’ll be back.) Even Josh Woods can play mike in a game if necessary. Juarez was playing the mike during training camp because he was still a little bit out of shape, but when he gets to 100 percent, he’ll be more of a weak-side linebacker, where UCLA has Young, Krys Barnes and Woods. So even if Juarez was in shape, the Bruins are OK at that position and wouldn’t need him amid the injury situation. Last weekend, with Woods suspended for the first half and Breland Brandt out due to a concussion, UCLA had a shortage at strong-side linebacker. Juarez doesn’t play there so he wouldn’t have been helpful, and it’s likely too early in his career to have developed the position flexibility that Woods and Young have. Continue reading “Weekly Q&A: Stanford answers” »

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