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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Weekly Q&A: Stanford

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It’s time for Pac-12 play, friends. UCLA starts its conference slate with Stanford on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at Stanford Stadium. Both teams are coming off upsets that knocked them out of the AP rankings.

If you have questions about the Bruins, leave them below or send me an email — thnguyen(at)scng(dot)com — and I’ll post answers on THURSDAY.

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Weekly Q&A: Memphis answers

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A few links before we get to the questions:

Now your questions:

A lot of attention is being paid to the linebacker situation for the Memphis game with Kenny Young and Josh Woods out. Why is there no mention of concern for the safeties?

The dual losses of Adarius Pickett and Jaleel Wadood are very big and won’t be forgotten on Saturday. However, I don’t think they elicit as much initial worry as the losses at linebacker because the defensive backs group is deeper. The secondary was the second deepest unit on the team heading into the season behind defensive line, so it can more easily weather losses in theory.

Will Lockett is a redshirt sophomore and Octavius Spencer is a junior and they both had previous game experience on defense. Mossi Johnson, who is the third safety, is a little bit of a wild card because he only recently made the full-time switch to the defensive side. Lockett and Spencer can both play multiple positions, which should ease the transition.

With Kenny Young (head) highly doubtful for this week (in my mind) and Josh Woods out for the first half, the Bruins lost their only two linebackers with any defensive game experience prior to this season. Breland Brandt, who I think will fill in at Woods’ strong-side position, redshirted last year. Krys Barnes, Young’s replacement, only got special teams snaps. Brandt, Barnes and Lokeni Toailoa are only playing in their third games on defense. I think there is less proven position flexibility with them because they are more inexperienced. Continue reading “Weekly Q&A: Memphis answers” »

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