Q: What was once a strength, now seems to be a weakness that opposing teams like SC, Stanford and Utah will expose. Are Jayon Brown, Isaako Savaiinea, Eli Ankou and Matt Dickerson really capable of playing defense at a high enough level to keep us contending for a Pac-12 title — let alone a national championship?
A: National championship? Unlikely. Pac-12 title? Maybe. I think the Bruins are definitely still in good shape to take the division, but they essentially got thrown into a worst-case scenario before conference play even started. The bright side is that it gives the team a lot of time to readjust their defensive scheme before the toughest part of the schedule, but there’s just no way to prevent a dropoff after losing Eddie Vanderdoes, Myles Jack and Fabian Moreau.
Q: With all the injuries to the linebacker corps, do you think Coach Mora would consider moving Nate Iese to the defensive side as well? Also how is Dwight Williams looking? He seems to be the forgotten man.
A: I think Nate Iese has moved around positions enough in his career. Better to keep him at fullback, where he’s been able to contribute as a blocker as well as a receiver. The guy who has switched is Taylor Lagace, who practiced a bit at linebacker this week, presumably because Jayon Brown is limited by his back injury.
Q: Am I the only one who thinks Soso Jamabo would be a beast at outside linebacker? I get he is talented at running back, but do you ever see a day where he might move over to defense? Reminds me a lot of Anthony Barr with his frame.
A: That’s an interesting thought, but I think it’s unlikely. UCLA seems committed to keeping Jamabo in the backfield, and hasn’t even tried moving Jamabo to receiver — where he might also succeed given his upright running style. The Barr comparison is also be a bit of a stretch. Continue reading