Weekly Q&A – UNLV

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UCLA hosts UNLV this Saturday at 5 p.m. in the team’s home opener. The Bruins are coming off an overtime loss that dropped them out of both the AP and Coaches’ Polls. UNLV is in the second year of the Tony Sanchez era and has a dominant victory over lower-division Jackson State last week. If you have questions about the Bruins then leave them in the comments and I’ll post answers THURSDAY.

You can also send me questions for the Q&A via email if you prefer: thnguyen(at)scng.com

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Weekly Q&A – Texas A&M Answers

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Thanks for all your questions! If you have follow up discussion, feel free to send me an email (thnguyen(at)scng.com) or leave a comment below.

OFFENSE

The general consensus is Josh Rosen is a strength and the offensive line is a concern. Do you think Rosen is getting overhyped? Do you think the offensive line is being underhyped?

I think Rosen is being fairly hyped. He is so critical to this team for so many reasons. And the fact that he’s one of the few returning starting quarterbacks in the conference just magnifies how much of a strength he is.

I think the concerns about the offensive line are valid in that the team has questions at all three interior spots. That has to be a concern, especially when you have golden-armed Rosen standing back there and you’ve also stated a commitment to the running game. On the other hand, something that goes under the radar a little bit is who they have in those spots. It’s not like they’re freshmen or redshirt freshmen. Scott Quessenberry is a fourth-year junior. Kenny Lacy is a fourth-year junior. Poasi Moala is a fourth-year junior. They’ve been around the block and I think the starters are ready for their moments. I would be mostly concerned about the backups. It’s a very muddled situation back there. A lot of the players say they have depth, but like I’ve previously written this week, bodies do not equal depth. The offensive line, unlike in previous years, has bodies, but not necessarily depth at this point in the year. Continue reading

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Weekly Q&A – Texas A&M

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It’s well into game week so it’s time to bring back the weekly Q&A. If you have questions about the Bruins as they head into their season opener leave them in the comments and I’ll post answers THURSDAY.

Side note: I’m considering a weekly live chat instead of a Q&A via the comments, so if you have a specific preference, then drop a vote in the comments (or by email — thnguyen(at)scng.com — if that’s more your style).

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Q&A — 1/15/16 Answers

Q: Why is our basketball team so wildly inconsistent this year?

A: The Bruins aren’t very good on defense, which I’d attribute to both the abilities of individual players as well as lackluster coaching. That puts them in a bad spot whenever they fall into scoring droughts; we saw that against USC, when every second-half comeback attempt died because the Trojans responded with quick, easy points. UCLA’s offense has also become very dependent on Bryce Alford’s shooting. When he’s not hitting baskets, everything else bogs down. When he is, however, it’s a difficult team to stop.

Q: Looking ahead to the 2016 season the roster should be filled with talent. What do you think the starting five will look like after T.J. Leaf and Lonzo Ball make it on to campus? If Ball ends up starting, which current guard do you see Coach Alford moving to the bench?

A: Since no one on the team looks NBA-ready, let’s assume that none of them makes a bad decision to turn pro early. In that case, I’d expect the starting lineup to look something like:

C — Thomas Welsh, Jr.
F — T.J. Leaf, Fr.
G — Isaac Hamilton, Sr.
G — Bryce Alford, Sr.
G — Lonzo Ball, Fr.

Since there’s no way Alford will send his son to the bench — and since Hamilton will also be a senior — Aaron Holiday in a sixth man role probably makes the most sense. But I could also see a scenario where Hamilton becomes the leading scorer of the second unit. Continue reading

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Weekly Q&A — 11/26/15 Answers

Q: Does anyone remember who was favored in the 2012, 2013 and 2014 UCLA and USC football games?

A: According to the Odds Shark database, UCLA was a 3.5-point favorite last year, a 4.5-point underdog in 2013, and a 4-point underdog in 2012.

Q: What’s the injury report on our defense? Also, is Conor McDermott going to play Saturday?

A: Linebacker Isaako Savaiinaea (ankle) and cornerback Johnny Johnson (neck) both dressed and warmed up at Utah, but didn’t play. Mora said Johnson will return, and I’d bet on Savaiinaea playing too. Defensive lineman Matt Dickerson was being examined for an undisclosed injury near the end of UCLA’s win over Utah, and left Wednesday’s practice early. Not sure about his severity, but he wasn’t noticeably limping or anything. Defensive end Takkarist McKinley has been playing through some leg injuries for over a month now, but I expect him to be on the field.

I’d be stunned if Conor McDermott plays. He hasn’t practiced since injuring his knee on Saturday, and I wouldn’t expect him back until the bowl game — if he returns at all. Kolton Miller will almost certainly start at left tackle against USC. Devin Fuller played last weekend, so the wideout will likely be on the field again for the last rivalry game of his career. I’d call freshman receiver Stephen Johnson III doubtful; I didn’t see him anywhere on the field at Utah.

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