Ask Oscar Cabrera


Patrick Burns (Los Angeles)
Thanks for taking the time to read my question - I know your schedule is very busy. A lot of the success of the team rides upon the play of the offensive line. But unlike the ways other offensive players can score points on a single play, the o-line doesn't usually handle the ball directly. How do linemen such as yourself measure success during a game? Is it only when the offense scores points? Or is it measured in other ways, such as seeing defensive lineman get tired or seeing a long drive move them back down the field. Thanks in advance if you are able to take this question, and good luck with the next four games.

'The way we usually measure success is if we come out and dominate a game. The thing that really lets us know if we've played a good game or not is the way we protect and how we were able to run the ball. If our running backs get over 100 yards or close to that, we think we played pretty well. We try to give up no hurries and no sacks and if we can come out of a game with none of those, we think we had a pretty good game. Also, when we score points, we know that we did a good job because that mean's we've either given the quarterback sufficient time to throw the ball or we've given the running backs holes to run through. In addition, we take great pride in our strength and conditioning program here at UCLA. When we look across the ball and we see the defensive lineman tired, we take pride in that. When we see the other team tired, it does give us an edge over the opponent.'

Kelvin Tang (Tualatin, OR)
Congratulations on a good year! I have managed to watch several games and the improvements you've made in the last few seasons are incredible. I was wondering what a typical practice session is like for you?

'Every year coming into the season you want to be able to improve and make strides towards perfection. The way we practice around here usually heads us in the right direction. It's really easy to just go out in practice and make it through. But here, we take a lot of pride in the way we practice and the extra efforts we make. I think a typical practice for the offensive line would be to first stretch, then warm up for about 25 minutes to a half and hour. Then after that, we go against our scout team for a while and then we might go against our defense for a while. Towards the end of practice, we go one-on-one against the defensive lineman - they try to pass rush and we try to block them one-on-one. For the most part, we warm up, work on technique and fundamentals.'

Javier Ramos (Chula Vista, CA)
Oscar, I think you would agree that there are not too many Latinos playing the game of football. Do you think that you are a role model for the Latino community because of the amount of success you've had at UCLA?

'I definitely think that I am a role model for many Latinos out there. There are a lot of Latinos out there who have the opportunity and have what it takes to come out and play this sport, but there are too many people that don't get directed the right way. I've had the opportunity to have two great parents who have supported me through everything I've done. I grew up playing baseball for the most part and I started playing football in high school. The biggest thing for me is to let Latinos know that there are opportunities out there, not just in football or in sports either, but in school too. We just need to find out about them and take advantage of them. But to answer the question, I do see myself as a Latino role model. I grew up in Glassell Park and Highland Park, areas that are primarily Latino. I go back over there now and then and say hi to my parents and my coaches. Everyone around there knows that I play football and they look up to me. I'm under the microscope every time I do something good or bad. I just hope that there are a lot of Latinos out there that will start to take advantage of the opportunities available to them.'

Jeanette Brown (Whittier, CA)
What are your plans following college? Do you hope to continue playing football or are you planning on doing something else when your career at UCLA is over?

'First and foremost, my plan is to graduate. I will be the first one in my family to do that. Both of my parents didn't have the opportunity to go to college because they migrated here from Mexico. We have a really big family and I don't think I have any family members that have graduated or let alone attended college. So that's my No. 1 goal right now. As far as playing football when I'm done here, if the opportunity presents itself I will definitely give it a shot. But if I don't make it, it won't be that big of a deal. The bottom line is that I'm not relying on football to have a career. I've always looked forward to getting a job and working with people. I'm majoring in sociology and I've thought about teaching, but I'm not sure exactly what I want to do. If you have any suggestions, let me know.'

Mark McFarland (Rochester, NY)
Being a senior, is there anything you would change about your career since coming to UCLA as a freshman? Maybe win four Rose Bowls? But seriously, has everything gone the way you have planned it?

'Ever since I've been here, some things have went the way I've planned and some other things haven't. Coming out of high school, I wasn't a big recruit and I've gotten the opportunity to play and I'm very grateful for that. I've worked hard and I've been able to overcome some of the stuff that people said I wouldn't be able to do. On the other hand, I would've loved to win four Rose Bowls. That would've been great, but I've had the opportunity to go to two bowl games and this year we will have the chance to go to another. Coming from a school where I wasn't well prepared for the college level, I've overcome a lot of obstacles academically and I'm proud of that. I've learned a lot from my experiences here and I'm a better person for everything that has happened.'

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