On the Other Sideline: 5 questions with the Daily Bruin


— Courtesy of the Daily Bruin/Tim Bradbury

The Utes travel to the Rose Bowl on Saturday for a showdown with No. 8 UCLA. In preparation for the contest, The Daily Utah Chronicle’s Ryan Miller caught up with Chris Kalra of the Daily Bruin to get the lowdown on all things UCLA.
Q: The UCLA defense has forced a number of turnovers but also has given up a lot of yards. How good is this Bruins defense, and do they expect to keep up the number of turnovers they are forcing?
A: They force a lot of turnovers, and though they’ve given up a lot of yards, defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich said they’re hungry, they feel like this is a week that they can find their identity. Realistically, I wouldn’t say [they can keep up the turnovers], but they seem to think that’s their M.O. They’re going to go after turnovers, and that’s what the coaches want them to do.
Q: How do the Bruins view Utah as an opponent? Is there any chance UCLA may be looking ahead to Oregon? Could this be considered a ‘trap’ game for the Bruins?
A: From the outside looking in, you have to think [the Bruins] will be thinking “next week is the week we play Oregon,” but I don’t think they’ll overlook Utah. Utah has Travis Wilson, Dres Anderson and all these talented players, and UCLA knows they’ll get a challenge. But I think we all know in the back of their mind they have one eye looking forward to Oregon and that could potentially be a dangerous factor.
As soon as the schedule came out, you knew the Oregon game was the one they highlighted on their calendar. [Brett] Hundley and [head coach Jim] Mora have never beaten Oregon, so they haven’t shown they are an elite Pac-12 team, even though they’re ranked in the top 10. So you know that is a game they want really badly, so even if they won’t say so, maybe they are looking a little ahead. But Utah is a good team and, if things fall into place, might be able to make something happen on Saturday.
Q: UCLA has shown they could be a team contending for the conference crown but at other times have struggled. What has been the reason behind the inconsistency? What team do you expect to show up Saturday?
A: Let’s start with the offensive line — if you can’t protect your quarterback, you can’t win. You saw that Hundley got hurt, and in the game against Virginia, he just kept going down and down. He didn’t have enough time to make his reads, and when Hundley is pressured and rushed, he’s not as effective. He’s not been able to stay in the pocket as much as he would like to.
Prior to the season, some people thought the secondary was going to be the best part of the team, but that hasn’t shown yet. The cornerbacks have been disappointing, and they lost their starting safety for the season, so there are now depth issues, and it’s shown, as they have given up 400-500 yards per game and 300 yards through the air. So Travis Wilson can certainly play a factor, and I won’t be surprised if he had a lot of touchdowns on Saturday.
I expect UCLA to start slow and struggle early, but I think [the Bruins] will pull away late and kind of edge out Utah.
Q: What does Utah need to do to slow down Brett Hundley and the UCLA attack? What is the health of Hundley heading into the game?
A: They have to pressure him. If the Utes are able to get to Hundley, then they are going to have a chance. We’re going to see how much the Bruin offensive line is going to hold up. I think overall if Hundley can make some good reads and get out there and run then he will have some success.
They have been [tight-lipped] about [Hundley’s injury]; they won’t really talk much about it. Hundley said he was still going to wear the brace. He looks fine and, honestly, I would say it’s not that much of a concern currently.
Q: What do the Bruins need to do get a victory Saturday?
A: They need to protect Hundley. If UCLA is able to protect Hundley then they are going to win, and it’s not going to be that difficult. If they can’t, then it will be a dogfight all the way to the end.
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