Q&A: Bruins under the Microscope

The 4-2 Cal battles 3-4 UCLA at home on Saturday October 25. This is a huge game for both teams. UCLA needs a few more victories to become bowl eligible and California wants to get back in position for first place in the conference. When the two teams met last season, the Bruins came away with a 30-21 victory. CSD got a chance to ask Sam Allen from the Daily Bruin about the future of the program…

The Bruins have dealt with many injuries to the quarterback position this season. Kevin Craft was thrown into the mix, but he led the Bruins to a huge win over Tennessee earlier in the season. How does Coach Rick Neuheisel feel about freshmen quarterbacks Chris Forcier and Nick Crissman and what are his expectations for them going into next year?

Chris Forcier is one of the fastest players on the entire team, so the coaches like to use him on trick plays or QB-draw plays. Nick Crissman just had shoulder surgery, and he will redshirt. I'd say it will be Craft's job to lose going into next season, but there will competition, as always. Watch out for Kevin Prince, a true freshman, who almost overtook Forcier as the back up earlier this season. I don't think incoming freshman Richard Brehaut will start right away, but it's always a possibility.

Coach Neuheisel isn't looking for moral victories, but how does the football program feel about the performances of young players like WR Taylor Embree (25 catches) and RB Derrick Coleman (191 yards rushing)?

There is definitely a feeling that this group of freshmen will be the core of some good Bruin teams in the future. Already, 11 freshmen have played. Only two played last year, and one was a long snapper. Embree and Coleman stand out, but don't forget about Rahim Moore and Jeff Baca, who start at very crucial positions (free safety, left tackle), as true freshmen.

Coach Neuheisel does not have his players in place yet, because he only had one recruiting class come in so far, but the Bruins have lost close games to Fresno State and Oregon. Has the teams performance on the field given UCLA supporters a reason to believe that in the near future this team could be very good in the next couple of years?

Overall people understand Neuheisel, [Norm] Chow and [Dewayne] Walker are trying to rebuild. Still, it's hard to say the fans are totally positive after two abysmal losses to BYU and Arizona. A lot of people are still waiting to see if the Bruins can win a big game this season, either at Cal or Arizona State, or at home against USC.

What have been some of the reasons why the offense has not performed as well as it should under Norm Chow's guidance and is there a feeling that the offense will eventually improve?

I don't think the offense's struggles fall on Chow's shoulders at all, in fact, UCLA has beaten talented defenses (Tennessee, Stanford) with a great scheme. The struggles are really a combination of personnel factors. The offensive line is inexperienced, so most defenses have been focusing on stopping the run. And the passing game doesn't have a true deep threat, nor is Craft truly polished at the quarterback position, so things have been a little one-dimensional. The offense will improve as the offensive line gains experience, and UCLA proves it can run the football.

The series between the Bears and Bruins have gone back and forth over the years. What are Coach Neuheisel's thoughts on the Bear's program and how do the players view the Cal game?

No question this is a huge game for UCLA, and Neuheisel and the players understand that. Immediately after the win against Stanford, the talk in the locker room shifted to Cal and the importance of this game. It offers the Bruins a chance to improve to 3-2 in conference and win a game on the road, something they've done just three times in their last 15 tries. Also, the team appreciates the rivalry, and the intensity of any Pac-10 game.

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