Weekly Q&A: Oregon answers


How would you assess the morale of the team? Kenny Young seemed to indicate at the Arizona postgame press conference that some of his teammates are not fully committed.

This is a critical week for the team. With a 3-3 record and two very hard road games coming up (at Washington then at Utah on a short week), this Oregon game could be a tipping point. If the Bruins win, it’ll keep them barely above water. If they lose, it could be the beginning of a three-game losing streak that will completely cap-size the season. Like the year’s hopes, I believe the team’s morale might be on unsteady ground.

I’m neither in meetings nor on the field for practice, but something that struck me this week was hearing Jim Mora say of his defense, “We have to move away from being fragile and move into being confident.” Perhaps the team follows that same mentality. I think the team goes into each game with confidence then once one bad thing happens, its morale is shattered. An example Mora referenced would be the 45-yard touchdown run by Khalil Tate on the fourth play of the game that erased two weeks of good practices. Developing that mental fortitude is a hard, but necessary task that the Bruins seem to be struggling with, especially on defense. Continue reading “Weekly Q&A: Oregon answers” »

Weekly Q&A: Oregon


UCLA will try to snap its six-game losing streak to Oregon on Saturday at the Rose Bowl at 1 p.m. It’s homecoming for the Bruins and the team is also honoring Heisman winner Gary Beban on the 50th anniversary of his victory.

If you have UCLA football questions, drop them in the comments or shoot me an email — thnguyen(at)scng(dot)com — and I’ll post answers on THURSDAY.

Weekly Q&A: Arizona answers


With the way the Bruins secondary has performed (Denzel Fisher and Nate Meadors, in particular), why hasn’t Brandon Burton seen the field more?

If Brandon Burton didn’t get moved to linebacker, he still wouldn’t be in line to replace Denzel Fisher or Nate Meadors because Burton was a safety and Fisher and Meadors are both playing corner. UCLA is deep at safety with Jaleel Wadood, Adarius Pickett, Will Lockett, Octavius Spencer and Mossi Johnson. Johnson especially has emerged in recent weeks and coaches are starting to give him more defensive reps based on the toughness and tackling ability he showed on special teams.

UCLA is a lot thinner at linebacker than at defensive back, so that’s why Burton wouldn’t move back at this time. It’s possible that Burton may still need time to adjust to the position change he made during the spring or he may be dealing with a minor injury that’s keeping him from the field.

Fisher was the target of three defensive holding penalties against Colorado when he came in to replace Darnay Holmes, who was ejected for targeting. That’s a problem. But he was replaced by Colin Samuel, who immediately got a pass breakup on his first drive. Depending on how he followed up that game in practice the past two weeks, Samuel could be in line for a few more snaps on game day, I think.

Meadors has been the recipient of several pass interference flags, but he seems to be a sure tackler and Pro Football Focus had him ranked among the best Pac-12 cornerbacks after the Colorado game. So while he hasn’t been perfect, he’s probably not as bad as you’re thinking.

Continue reading “Weekly Q&A: Arizona answers” »

Weekly Q&A: Colorado answers

What do you contribute the Bruins inability to stop the run?  Are we lacking size or strength or is it the defensive scheme? 

I think there’s a lack of size, especially on the inside, after the departures of Eddie Vanderdoes and Eli Ankou. But I think the main thing is a lack of experience, which results in a lack of trust (more on that here). Everyone on this defense was a hero for his high school team at one point in time. No hero is super enough to save this defense alone, so it’s necessary that everyone sticks to perfecting their assignment and when that happens, the defense can become more than the sum of its parts. At least that’s what the Bruins are hoping. This type of defense only works when everyone does the right thing at the same time every time. It’s a thin line to traverse, but this is the way the Bruins have to live without players like Jayon Brown and Takkarist McKinley, who could very easily erase mistakes from the teammates. Continue reading “Weekly Q&A: Colorado answers” »