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October 6, 2010BearTerritory caught up with BruinBlitz.com publisher Rick Kimbrel this week for a brief Q&A on Saturday's opponent.
BearTerritory: Which UCLA team is the real one: the team that upset perennial power Texas in Austin, or the team that took a 35-0 loss at home the hands of Stanford?
Rick Kimbrel: They are both the real thing. I said before the season that this team has the talent to beat or lose to any team on their schedule depending on how they decide to play. They are a young team except for the offensive line ("The Filthy Five"), but outside of Mike Harris and Eddie Williams there's not a lot of experience. But, they are fast gaining that experience. As they get the offense down they will be closer to the team they took to Austin then the one who lost 35-0 in the Rose Bowl.
BT: How efficient can the Bruins be with the new pistol offense?
RK: Once UCLA gets the offense down, they can be Nevada on steroids.
BT: What are the biggest question marks for UCLA?
RK: The biggest question marks going into the season were the linebackers and the linemen on both sides of the ball. All three spots are shoring up nicely. The biggest question mark now is when will the highly talented wide receiver group start to play up to their potential. Way too many dropped passes so far this season.
BT: What are the Bruins' biggest strengths?
RK: The running game. Both Johnathan Franklin and Derrick Coleman are coming off career bests this last game.
BT: How hot is head coach Rick Neuheisel's seat right now? Does he have to get to a bowl game to keep his job?
RK: The seat won't get too hot until next season. Getting to a bowl will help keep it cool even next year.
BT: What changes has Neuheisel made this year that make this team different from years past?
RK: The obvious answer is changing the offense from a pro style to the pistol.
BT: Is this the year that the Bruins can break their 0-4 streak in Berkeley?
RK: Like I answered in question one, this team can beat anyone or lose to anyone, depending on what team shows up. So, if the team that shows up is the one that showed up in Austin (we were told that Austin is the Berkeley of Texas and I'm not sure if that was a compliment or not) then UCLA can beat Cal. If they show up with the team that showed up last week against WSU then I would say that Cal's streak will be safe unless the Cal team that showed up in Reno shows up in Berkeley. Did you get all that ;>)
BT: Who is shaping up to be UCLA's breakout star this season?
RK: Johnathan "Jet Ski" Franklin. He has three games in a row with over 100 yards. He set a career-high against Houston three weeks ago and broke his career mark again last week when rushed for over 200 yards. He is 10th in the NCAA in rushing and 2nd in the Pac-10.
BT: Have the Bruins suffered any injuries of note, and what effects do they have on the way UCLA does business?
RK: Junior defensive end Datone Jones broke his foot in camp and that was a huge loss. He was expected to be UCLA's playmaker up front. Offensive center Kai Maiava broke his ankle in the training camp scrimmage, but Ryan Taylor moved from guard to center and has been doing an outstanding job.