Ask Bob Toledo
Oct. 12, 2000
Carlo Medina (Los Angeles)
First of all, congratulations on a great start to the season. In your years here you have taken our program from mediocrity to a national power. My question is: are you concerned over the lack of a pass rush the defense generates with just the four defensive linemen? I've noticed that most of our sacks come when we send six guys to the QB, and even then they are not always successful (and this leaves our secondary exposed obviously). Are we recruiting any top DL/DE in the coming year? Again, thank you for bringing UCLA football into the forefront.
'Since I've been here we've went to a four-man line. But because of the zone blitzes that we do, a lot of times and end will drop off for example. Or a lot of times when we do go into a nickel, we'll take a couple of lineman out and put in more DB's and linebackers. Those guys are rushers as opposed to lineman rushing. I think we're playing the best defense that we've had since I've been here. I think if we would've had this defense with the 1998 offensive team, we probably would've won the national championship. I think we're heading in the right direction. We're still a young team and we only have a few seniors that are starters on defense. I think the future is very bright and we'll continue to improve in that area.'
Travis Christ (San Diego, CA)
Congratulations on the teams solid victories to date. With D. Foster out of the line up for several weeks who will be the go to guy in the backfield? I was very impressed with A. Harris against ASU. He reminded me of Skip Hicks.
'Well, we believe that we have a couple guys. No. 1 is Jermaine Lewis who was a starter here a few years ago. He was one of the leading scorers in the nation. Of course DeShaun Foster obviously replaced him because of his talent. Akil Harris is another young man that we're very exited about. He was very good on the scout team a few years ago. He had an excellent spring practice and has improved steadily this fall. I think people saw against ASU the talent that he has. So we're excited about him. The future is also bright in the fact that there is a young man named Manuel White Jr., who is a redshirt and is an outstanding back.'
Ed Escarcega (Granada Hills, CA)
I've noticed that you take great pride in the fans who attend the ballgames and have labeled them as the team's '12th man'. Well Coach this is a mention of one of your fans and not so much a question. My Grandfather, Rufino Escarcega, has been a staunch UCLA supporter for many, many years. He also was employed at the school for many years. This past year my family was dealt a bit of a blow when he was diagnosed with liver cancer. When his options were explained to him, one of the first questions he asked the doctors was, 'will I be able to attend the football games?' Well chemotherapy was prescribed and he has been doing very, very well. He even had his treatments scheduled so as not to miss any games. He also for as long as I can remember has attended road games whenever possible. One memory I will always cherish was the road trip to the Texas game in 1997. My father Rufino Jr.(a 20 year season ticket holder in his own right!), my grandfather and myself did the non-stop drive to go to the game. What a GAME!!! One last thing Coach, as I know you are a very busy man, my grandfather was unable to attend last weeks ASU game, for one reason. The wedding of my youngest cousin took place on the same day. It was this that prompted me to write to you. I had no idea but was told that this was the first home game my grandfather had missed since he returned home from the Korean War. Quite a feat, I believe. So as you can see Coach, rooting for UCLA is a tradition in our family and with the new arrival of my son Julian (Coach, he has linebacker written all over him!), one that is destined to continue for many, many years. As for my Grandfathers cancer, it appears to be in remission. Another victory for UCLA it would seem. You see he gets his treatments at UCLA! Hopefully you are able to respond Coach. I'd love to show it to him.
'Well I think in talking about the people in the stands, I refer to them as the 12th-Bruin. I've received a lot of mail from people that hope that their involvement in the stands has helped us on the field and I think it has. If you look at our home games, we've had a lot of success. A guy like Rufino, along with several other people has been instrumental in helping us be successful. I know that your grandfather has some physical problems right now, but I'd like to wish him well and hope that he can get better and come to support his Bruins again.'
Mark W. Oberhauser (San Diego, CA)
Great year so far...exciting as always! My question is regarding recruiting. What is your priority for recruiting out-of-state players and how difficult is it to get top recruits when they may not be close geographically? I'm thinking of guys like Freddie Mitchell...Thanks.
'Well the big thing in recruiting is that we have to go out of state for the reason of academics. There just isn't as big a pool as we'd like in Southern California or the state of California in general. So yes, to get a bigger pool of players we do recruit out of state. There is also a lot of interest from out of state kids because we have a great reputation across the country. A lot of that has to do with UCLA's outstanding academic and athletic reputation combined. We feel that we can be very successful recruiting out of state, but I'd like to emphasize that we make the state of California first, the Western United States second, then recruit nationally.'
Jeff Goodman (Alisa Viejo, CA)
When do you think we will see more of Jerry Owens getting some passes thrown his way? I've heard such good things about him I would love to see him play. Has his development been slowed down because of injuries?
'The biggest thing with Jerry Owens is that he's been continuously hurt. When he got here a year ago he was hurt. He got hurt in spring practice and missed a lot of the spring. He came back in the fall and then was injured again. There is no question that Jerry Owens has a lot of physical ability and can be an excellent receiver if he could stay healthy.'
James Granados (Whittier, CA)
I like the running game, but will you ever put the tight ends into your offense more on 3rd downs?
'Actually, our tight ends are in there on a lot of our third downs. What we do is, a lot of our tight ends become a back in third down situations. Sometimes we'll go with three wide receivers, but a lot of times we'll actually put a back in the backfield. We're a situation, substitutional football team. For example, when we get on the goaline, we put three tight ends in. So we have different philosophies for different parts of the field in different situations.'