Comment with questions today, and I’ll post answers tomorrow. Thanks.
Q: The Bruins usually tank in Arizona. What’s your take on how the trip may turn out this Saturday? Do the young guys know about the team’s history playing in Tucson? Has there been any extra motivation and focus this week for the trip in light of what happened in 2011 with the blowout loss and bench-clearing brawl that was the beginning of the end of the Neuheisel era?
I think they’ll come out on top this Saturday, though it could end up a close one. They match up well against Arizona, but the Wildcats will be able to set up the run a lot more than it did last year as long as it doesn’t fall into a huge early hole. None of the players are even much acknowledging last year’s game let alone the 2011, at least publicly. I think too many just weren’t around then for that to have a significant impact. The recent losses at Stanford and Oregon probably weigh more heavily in terms of motivation.
Q: Is Marcus Rios just going to take a medical redshirt year at this point? Continue reading
Q: We’ve started a record 18 freshmen. Do you agree this is setting the table for a dominant team in years to come? If we play Oregon a 2nd time I think we could definitely win. Your thoughts?
A: I’m not sure. To some extent, it backs up the sheer amount of talent in this signing class. Practice also obviously can’t completely replicate game experience, so it’s good to get their feet a little wet. Some players, though, are sometimes better off redshirting a year and learning. Using 18 freshmen seems a bit excessive; I think maybe a guy like Jayon Brown might have been better off sitting for a year. (He does fill in special team depth though. On Myles Jack’s blocked punt against Oregon, the center was peeking back and forth between Jack and Brown and decided to block the latter.)
I don’t think UCLA would win a rematch. Defending Oregon is just a nightmare; even if you contain the Ducks for say, five straight plays, they could break the sixth out for 40 yards. The Bruins’ linebackers played them better than anyone else this season, and Oregon still put up 42 points.
Q: Now that Scott Quessenberry’s redshirt is gone, and he played pretty well, do you expect him to stay in the lineup? Or is he back to the bench if Simon Goines is ready? Continue reading
Q: Let’s say UCLA wins the South again: If we were to play UofO a second time, and they beat us and went undefeated, advancing to the National Championship game, would we automatically be selected to play in the Rose Bowl as the Pac-12 runner-up?
A: Not automatically, and not likely. First of all, UCLA must win nine games and be among the top 14 teams in the BCS rankings to qualify for an at-large selection. The Bruins would have at least three losses if it loses to Oregon twice, so staying that highly ranked would be difficult. Also, no more than two teams from the same conference can make it unless two non-champions somehow end up No. 1 and 2. UCLA would need two close losses to Oregon, and be a more attractive candidate than Stanford assuming both are at-large BCS qualifiers.
A top-12 team from the MAC, C-USA, Mountain West or Sun Belt would also automatically qualify and take up a BCS bowl slot. Fresno State (Mountain West) and Northern Illinois (MAC) are both undefeated and currently rank No. 17 and 18, respectively. Continue reading
Q: What happened to the Bruin run game on Saturday? Was it the O-line or the RBs fault for the low productivity? Will Jordon James be ready for the Stanford game?
A: I think the greater issues lay with the offensive line’s run blocking, though how much Cal stacked the box didn’t make things easier for the new starting five. The unit needs to find its cohesion again quickly without injured left tackle Torian White. I doubt James (still in a boot) will play at Stanford, but Paul Perkins should be productive as long as he has room to work with and runs hard early.
Q: I know a few weeks ago you had us losing to Stanford. Still feel the same way? Do we have the best front seven in the country? Continue reading
Q: Seems like UCLA will have played at least 50 percent of their games against teams that have been ranked in the top 25 at some point this year. Is that typical?
A: Nebraska is the only UCLA opponent so far that was ranked at kickoff, so I assume you’re just counting the rest of the schedule. In that case, the question sort of becomes more about the strength of the Pac-12. The conference is much deeper than it has been in the past few years, but those middle six teams are clustered closely together. Oregon and Stanford are at the top, and UCLA and Washington are in a second tier after that.
Across the country, the Bruins’ are ranked No. 66 in strength of schedule. New Mexico State really dragged that down.
Q: Your thoughts on whether or not the Bruins can really hang with Stanford and Oregon at this point? And how are Brandon Willis’ skills on the O-line? Continue reading