Brett Hundley's been facing a lot of pressure this year. Has this problem been getting any better and how do you see this affecting the game on Saturday?
Greg: Pass protection and sacks have been issues for all of Hundley's career. A small part of it has been Hundley's tendency to hold the ball too long as opposed to throwing the ball away and living to fight another day, but most of it has been on the offensive line. The unit is missing right tackle Simon Goines to injury, and last year's starting left tackle is no longer with the team. The Bruins had two players better suited as guards playing tackle to start the year, and the whole unit still had trouble handling blitzes and stunts. The offense usually did ok despite that - until Utah, where the Bruins gave up a ghastly 10 sacks and the OL play finally made the difference in a loss. It may have been a case of needing to hit rock bottom to finally force the team and coaches to address the issue. The line has been better in the two games since and the return of left tackle Conor McDermott from a nagging shoulder injury last week helped, too. But protecting Hundley is a big vulnerability for UCLA, and I'm sure your DC is dialing up some blitz packages to try to take advantage of that.
More Colorado - UCLA
The defense is obviously very talented, and UCLA has playmakers on all levels. Has their performance been disappointing thus far and who are some of the best playmakers on that side of the ball?
Greg: Given the number of playmakers that you mention, the defense has been fairly disappointing. Despite their ability to make big plays (3 defensive TDs against Virginia, a pick six against ASU, and a late game saving pick against Cal), the defense has not been very consistent. They have given up a lot of yards and sustained drives this year. ASU's backup QB threw for nearly 500 yards against them, and when everyone knew Utah was going to run the ball in their game winning drive, the D never had an answer. Much of this is attributable to a pretty vanilla scheme that has made very few in-game adjustments to the opponents, and over pursuit and poor discipline to assignments has left some unattended gaps or poor edge control that have opened lanes for the offenses. Myles Jack and Eric Kendricks are the stars at linebacker. Jack is a freak athlete with sped, and Kendricks is a tackling machine, and both cover a lot of ground. Kenny Clark and Owamagbe Odighizuwa have been a force on the D line all year. Either merits a double team, which gives more room to the other defenders. The secondary has seen a lot of players getting time, but that unit is really missing star Randall Goforth who is out with an injury.
Last year, this game was chippy and one of CU's better performances at the Rose Bowl. Has UCLA been talking about last year's game at all and how is CU viewed by the Bruins (team or otherwise)?
Greg: There hasn't been a lot of talk about any of last year's games specifically, so that includes the CU game, but I think this season that Bruin fans are pretty wary of CU. We all know the impressive history of the Colorado football program and we know it won't stay down for long. CU's offense is showing a lot of promise and we know that can spell trouble for a Bruins team that isn't always as focused as it could be. We all believe it's just a matter of time until the Buffs are back in the thick of the Pac-12 South, which will be a very good thing for the division as a whole, and someday soon CU is going to surprise someone and that will be their launch pad to their return. We just hope that it isn't this week.
Other than Brett Hundley, who are some playmakers on offense? Who has disappointed thus far?
Greg: Paul Perkins has emerged as the star at running back this season, both carrying the ball (averaging over 6 yards a carry) and catching passes (averaging 10 yds/catch). At receiver, the Bruins don't have that one big game breaking play maker (ala Paul Richardson for you guys last year) but what they lack in explosiveness they make up for in numbers, with 14 different players catching passes this year. Jordan Payton, who has been Mr Reliable with 42 catches to lead the team, leads the host of solid receivers. Devin Fuller is Hundley's second favorite targe and Eldridge Massington is our biggest deep threat. I wouldn't call any of the players disappointing, as I think the offensive play calling has been too predictable and conservative.
How do you see UCLA faring in their trip to Folsom?
Greg: It depends on which Bruins team shows up and how long they stay, as UCLA has yet to out together a 60 minute game on both sides of the ball this year. On paper, I think it's fair to say the Bruins have the better roster, but the Bruins' coaching hasn't matched up well with their counterparts this year, so that negates some of those personnel advantages. I think if the Bruins' defense can keep Sefo Liufau and Nelson Spruce from making too many big plays and getting the offense in a productive rhythm, and if the offense can hang on to the football, the Bruins should be able to do enough to outscore the Buffaloes, though I expect it to be closer than what the most optimistic Bruins would hope for.
Would you rather use sandpaper as toilet paper or hot sauce as eye drops?
Greg: Finally, an easy question! Sandpaper, no doubt about it. Our clueless AD Dan Guerrero and his equally clueless boss Gene Block have chapped my ass so much over the last few years that 20 grit sandpaper feels like Charmin now. With their repeated debacles with coaching searches and hires, irresponsible contract extensions, poorly executed facility renovations, and their overall ignorance and apathy towards marketing and communication and tradition, a cheese grater wouldn't make a scratch. Now as for hot sauce in the eyes, that sounds really painful, though if I had one of those chameleon tongues that could reach my eyeballs, then maybe that could be an option next time I get Taco Bell.