Know your foe – UCLA Bruins

Devils Digest invited its Sparky's Huddle members to pose questions to Publisher Tracy Pierson, concerning the Sun Devils' next opponent the UCLA Bruins. How pleased have the UCLA fans been with this season? How do those fans view the ASU program? How have the Bruins played on both sides of the ball? Pierson answers those questions and more in this article.

(from DenverDevil) How do the fans feel about the direction of the UCLA program under Neuheisel and Chow?

Pierson: UCLA fans are generally on board with the program, even though there was a great deal of griping during the 5-game losing streak. Norm Chow tends to get a pass because of his track record. He does get criticized for being too conservative, as does Neuheisel, but UCLA fans see that the team is very young and has improved, and that Neuheisel is doing a very good job in recruiting.

(from BigESunDvl) Many people seem to think that ASU and UCLA are very similar teams. Do you agree? Why or why not?

Pierson: They were probably similar earlier in the season in terms of their offensive and defensive performances. UCLA, through its first 6 or 7 games, had a struggling, young offense and a fairly good defense. But it's shifted a bit, with the offense really being effective in the last few weeks and the defense, over the course of the season, showing more vulnerability than what was expected.

Both programs have young quarterbacks and a young offensive line, and some young, talented defensive players that are probably still a couple of years away -- so, yeah, there are some similarities.

(from KCSundevil96) With the pressure of needing two more wins to become bowl eligible, will the play calling change at the beginning of the game for the Bruins? If so, how will a slow start by the offense dictate how aggressive both sides of the ball are schemed?

Pierson: Norm Chow will make up a game plan and call a game that he feels gives UCLA the best chance to be effective against ASU's defense. Whether or not bowl eligibility weighs in the balance really is irrelevant to the play-calling.

(from SoCalDevil666) I listened to the Post game of the game with Washington St., Rick said young backs fumbling is something that you need to improve on, who are some of the young backs, and has Rick played them thru their fumbling problems, or has he benched them? Do you see improvement in that area?

Pierson: The starter for most of the season has been Johnathan Franklin, but he's recently been infected with fumble-itis. Then, true freshman Damien Thigpen got a chance and he fumbled. As of right now, Franklin has lost his starting spot to Derrick Coleman. Franklin will get some snaps in this game so we'll see if he can keep from fumbling.

(from SoCalDevil666) As far as redshirts I am interested to know how Ricky Pierson: Marvay looks in practices, given he was teammates with Ryan Bass, Matt Scott, and Arthur Burns. I know he is redshirting do you see him getting time next year? Do you see Nick Able starting Next year on the O Line?

Pierson: Marvray had a very good fall camp and came very close to not being redshirted this season. He's a playmaker, with a great sense for the ball and very good pass-catching ability. Offensive lineman Nik Abele is highly regarded in the program and the belief is that he'll challenge for the starting right tackle position next season.

(from BigESunDvl) What are the positives and negatives of playing home games off campus at the Rose Bowl? Has there ever been talk of building an on campus or close to campus stadium?

Pierson: The biggest positive is the Rose Bowl atmosphere. There are very few venues in the country that have the kind of setting as the Rose Bowl. It's also a good selling point in recruiting. On the negative side, I think there's a loss of bonding between the football program and the UCLA community without an on-campus stadium. UCLA attempted to mount an on-campus stadium project in the 1960s, but the wealthy, powerful residents in Bel Air squashed it.

Since then, it's an on-going topic for the UCLA community, but most people within the UCLA athletic department feel it's unrealistic to think that UCLA would ever be able to, first, raise the money to build it, and secondly, overcome those same powerful Bel-Air residents.

(from DenverDevil) How do the UCLA fans view this ASU football program?

Pierson: There are certain Pac-10 programs that UCLA fans have grudges against. Obviously USC, but also there is some long-held resentment of Cal...probably Stanford a bit. I think generally UCLA fans don't have much of a grudge or resentment toward ASU football. I think most UCLA fans consider ASU a program that should consistently be in the top tier of the Pac-10. I think, also, that UCLA fans feels ASU has an easier admittance policy toward football players, and can get recruits in to school that UCLA can't. Many fans probably resent that -- mostly because they're probably jealous.

(from BigESunDvl) Which would UCLA fans enjoy more -- winning out or USC losing out?

Pierson: UCLA fans would definitely prefer to win out, since that would mean a win over USC.

A better question might be: What would UCLA fans generally prefer -- 1) UCLA beating everyone and losing to USC, or 2) UCLA losing to every opponent and beating USC? I'm not sure how an expansive poll of UCLA fans answering honestly would lean.

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