Weekly Q&A — 10/29/13 Answers

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

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Weekly Q&A — 10/22/13 Answers

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

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Weekly Q&A — 10/15/13 Answers

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

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Weekly Q&A — 10/8/13 Answers

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

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Weekly Q&A — 9/30/13 Answers

Q: Should I be nervous about the Utah game? Do you get the sense that the players are focused on only the next game or are they beginning to become overconfident and far-sighted?

“Wary” might be a better word than “nervous.” I think UCLA is raring to go again after New Mexico State plus a bye week, so there shouldn’t be too much worry about overconfidence. Utah has a talented quarterback in Travis Wilson however; the 6-foot-7 sophomore can throw as well as he runs, and will be the Bruins biggest challenge yet at the position. There doesn’t seem to be any inclement weather ahead though.

Q: What’s up with all of the late starts for home games? I know TV, but can’t we play during the day once in a while? Continue reading

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