Bruin Nation is one of the biggest hubs for UCLA fans and Pac-12 fans at large. In good times or bad times (which seem to be more frequent under Steve Alford and Chip Kelly), they’re always there for great content.
This is no different. BN went above and beyond, bringing 5 WRITERS to answer some of my questions before tonight’s matchup. Below, you have their fantastic answers.
1.I feel like the 0-3 start for UCLA is slightly misleading given the quality of opponent so far this year. Are the Bruins better than their record so far?
Andrew_Goodman3: The UCLA Bruins have definitely performed like an 0-3 so far this season, regardless of their opponents. While there has been good signs on both sides of the ball, the season has been a mess so far. The Bruins are still very undisciplined, and often shoot themselves in the foot. The youth of this team really shows with their mistakes.
Markybcool: Yeah, 11-0 is the record of the teams that UCLA has played so far, but the Bruins have played horrible, bad, and horrible in our three losses. So no, I think the record is indicative of how they have played so far.
orlandobruin: Our record is indicative of where we are at this point in the Chip Kelly era. The Bruins haven’t won a game on the road in over two years. Most are not expecting a Bruin win on Friday night.
AnteatersandBruins: I don’t think it’s far from the truth at all. There’s a mess in Westwood and it’s going to take a lot longer to clean it up. Unfortunately, Bruin fans are on the brink of civil war with one side thinking we should see results already and others remaining patient.
Joe Piechowski: UCLA Football right now is a mess. Roughly ⅓ of the team’s best recruits have left the program for a whole host of reasons, including leaving early for the NFL, medical retirements and transfers. When there is that kind of talent drain from a program, it makes it hard to argue that the team is better than its 0-3 record.
2. It appears that some of the players’ parents are openly voicing their displeasure with Chip. Is this just another case of losing bringing out problems or is there a deeper issue here?
Andrew_Goodman3: Losing brings out the worst in people, and that’s the case here. Especially with the social media age, this isn’t very uncommon. I’m not terribly worried, but it’s also not the greatest look to criticize the head coach, which can create an awkward situation for their son. Obviously it would be nice for things to stay quiet, but like I said, the age of social media has taken over.
Markybcool: Based on the fact that UCLA’s freshman quarterback has received pretty much 100% support from Chip Kelly, I find it hard to believe how anybody can question the coach that has put so much support and faith behind said quarterback.
orlandobruin: What is it with UCLA and vocal parents . . . cough, cough, LaVar Ball, cough, cough? Winning cures everything. If Thompson-Robinson wasn’t playing, would there be transfer rumors? Sometimes you are damned if you do and damned if you don’t.
AnteatersandBruins: I think we have a new era of helicopter parents, and it’s showing. I don’t recall Cade McNown’s dad throwing a fit when he was struggling during his time at UCLA. I think Mr. Thompson needs to back off and let Chip Kelly do his job.
Joe Piechowski: So far, that’s been limited to the parent of one kid who, rather ironically, has been UCLA’s starting quarterback the past two games. At the same time, that parent’s son Dorian Thompson-Robinson has played poorly. It makes no sense to me as to why a parent would take to Twitter to blast a coach when his son can’t seem to hit the broad side of a barn with his passes.
3. The Bruins are always stacked with talent. Who are some of the younger, talented guys that may break out this season?
Andrew_Goodman3: Although he only has 7 catches for 98, I’ve been impressed with WR Chase Cota. The true-freshman has blazing speed, to go along with a 6-3 frame that makes him a threat whenever he steps onto the field. I’d really love to see the Bruins get Chase Cota involved more on offense, he has big play potential. Sticking to the WR group, Theo Howard is a stud. He’s already racked up 11 catches for 185 yards and a score. His 16.8ypc average indicates huge things to come down the road.
Markybcool: The focus this week on one of Bruins Nation articles was around our young defensive line. Freshmen defensive linemen Otito Ogbonnia, Tyler Manoa and Atonio Mafi have definitely ignited some excitement with Bruins fans, and I see them continuing to progress for the Bruins.
orlandobruin: I think many Bruin fans would disagree with your premise that UCLA is “stacked with talent” at this point in time given the exodus of players from our program over the last few years. Notwithstanding that, I am a big fan of sophomore Quentin Lake at safety. That’s Carnell Lake’s kid (for those of you who don’t know, Carnell Lake was a 5 time Pro Bowler for the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 90s, who played college ball at UCLA). Questin even wears the number that his dad wore for the Steelers, #37. You’ll see a lot of him, I promise.
AnteatersandBruins: I definitely second Quentin Lake. If you go back to summer interviews, this kid has been hungry from the start. Chase Cota and my personal favorite, Kazmeir Allen, are three standouts that are going to make a huge difference going forward. It’s just going to take time to gel.
Joe Piechowski: The talent drain since the coaching change has been rather remarkable and it really makes me question how stacked UCLA is talent-wise right now. That said, I really like Kazmeir Allen.
4. Is the offense or defense struggling more with the new system?
Andrew_Goodman3: I believe the offense has struggled more with the system implemented by Chip Kelly. Everything looks sloppy, so many penalties, and just a ton of miscommunication. The offense moves without a purpose, and it’s barely a “system,” too. The offense looks discombobulated out there.
Markybcool: I agree with Andrew. It’s not even close. The expectations that Bruins Nation had around Chip, especially with his offensive mind, were high, and the product on the field so far this year has caused us all to scratch our heads.
orlandobruin: Hands down. Offense.
AnteatersandBruins: Offense for sure. We seem to be stalled out and can’t ever get a decent drive going. When we have good field position, it has usually been a gift from the defense.
Joe Piechowski: Definitely the offense.
5. Who are the players to watch on offense? Defense?
Andrew_Goodman3: Offensively, I’d watch out for WR Theo Howard. His big play ability is hard to ignore, and I see him connecting with Dorian Thompson-Robinson for two scores on Friday. Defensively, the Buffs should watch out for DB Darnay Holmes. He’s one of UCLA’s best defensive stoppers, and he loves to fly around the field. With the talented WR of the Buffs, this has the makings to be a great matchup with UCLA’s DB’s.
Markybcool: Sooner or later Caleb Wilson is going to get going. I think this will be the week that we see Wilson really breakout. If Jaelan Phillips can stay on the field, he is a difference maker that teams scheme against. With the threat that Steven Montez brings, our pass rush is vital in this game.
Orlandobruin: On offense, freshman running back Kazmier Allen won the California State 100 meter high school championship last spring. Look out if he gets the ball in space. On defense, safety Adarius Pickett leads the team (and is among the nation’s leaders) in tackles. But maybe that is because our linebackers cannot tackle . . .
AnteatersandBruins: Honestly, a lot of my picks are freshmen--Kazmeir Allen if he can get some room to run, Quentin Lake, and of course, DTR is going to get it going at some point and never look back. Jaelan Phillips has been a favorite of mine since last season (I think he’s our next Anthony Barr) and you can’t underestimate the kicking game--J.J. Molson is solid and has a strong leg.
Joe Piechowski: On offense, look out for Theo Howard, Kazmeir Allen and Caleb Wilson. Defensively, look out for Rick Wade on the D-Line. He’s a beast as is Jaelan Phillips.
6. What is your prediction for the game?
Andrew_Goodman3: I like UCLA to get off the schneid in Boulder by the score of 35-23. UCLA will be very well rested and had a lot of time to watch film and correct their mistakes (hopefully).
Markybcool: I love Andrew’s optimism. A Friday night game in Boulder, Colorado with an extremely young UCLA team that has a lot of guys who have never played at this altitude is a recipe for concern for me. UCLA goes down on the road this week.
orlandobruin: Sorry, I gotta save that for my own column. Bruins Nation’s Pregame Guesses. Come check it out!
AnteatersandBruins: My colleagues are going with our Bruins, so I’ll jump on the Positivity Bandwagon and take us as well. But it’s going to be yet another game where I’m stress eating and throwing things.
Joe Piechowski: 38-14, Buffs if Dorian Thompson-Robinson starts. If Wilton Speight starts, the Bruins might be able to squeak one out.