As has become custom on Wednesdays, the Bruins two coordinators met with the media. Offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone talked mostly about the offensive line, as it appears more and more likely that true freshman Scott Quessenberry will take off the red shirt and start at left guard, with Xavier Su'a-Filo moving out to left tackle.
This will certainly add a new wrinkle that the Bruins will have to overcome this weekend in Oregon. But as Randy Cross said, no thumb sucking, no excuses. Go play.
Thanks for the video to Ed Lewis with Bruins Sports Report and BSRTV via YouTube:
Mazzone began by noting that Oregon's defense may get underrated because of how prolific their offense is, then pointed out how athletic and fast they are. He feels that schematically the Oregon defense is pretty similar to UCLA which has been helpful this week a practice.
As Mazzone discussed the offensive line, he said he is actually excited about the progress that Caleb Benenoch and Alex Redmond have made on the right side and the steps that Quessenberry has made at left guard. Traveling to Autzen to face one of the top 3 teams in the nation will be a great experience for them to learn about big time college football. He later talked about how Quessenberry is sharp and is picking up things well, but that fundamentally he may be a bit behind the other freshmen simply due to lack of game experience.
The coach didn't feel that the inclusion of the freshmen on the OL would really change the play calling, but then said they might cut down on the volume of plays, focusing on the plays the line could run well and was comfortable with, rather than trying to open the entire playbook. After what we have seen the last few weeks, that may be either a blessing or a curse. While the offense has looked more predictable and far less dynamic than we have seen, it may show a greater tendency to stick with things that work. We will see.
Mazzone added that despite lining up behind the young OL he expects Brett Hundley to play a solid game this week. He felt that Brett maybe has been pressing the last couple weeks in an effort to make more things happen, and that Stanford's defense created some additional problems, particularly forcing Brett to throw on the run. I'm not sure that having three true freshmen on the line will increase Brett's sense of security, but if they really do focus on execution as opposed to diversity, that might be of benefit to everyone on the offense this week.
Jack Wang posted a brief clip of XSF talking Quesenberry's development and how he is helping the freshman learn his position at left guard.
I think it is very interesting that the staff is deciding to burn Q's redshirt this week. I think it speaks to their confidence (or lack of it) in redshirt sophomore Ben Wysocki or in moving backup center Carl Hulick over to guard, and also to their continued belief that putting the best player in gives them the best chance to win. If the coaches didn't think they had a shot at this game, it would make no sense to put the freshman in the lineup, so they must feel that this is the best move for the OL.
On the other side of the line of scrimmage, Coach Spanos doesn't have the same personnel issues as Mazzone to worry about. Per Jack Wang's Twitter, Eric Kendricks took off his red no-contact jersey today and is back to full speed Freshman Isaako Savaiinaea played really well in his absence last weekend but you can't replace a guy like Kendricks. So the Bruins will have their defense ready on Saturday for what will be their toughest challenge so far this season.
Thanks, as always, to Ed Lewis with Bruins Sports Report and BSRTV via YouTube
Spanos called Oregon QB Marcus Mariota "special", complimenting his vision, arm, accuracy, and his ability to keep plays alive, and says the defense will have a challenge this weekend. Everyone talks about Oregon's great speed across all their positions but he added they have a great offensive line up front that makes it possible. He added that the Duck's offense is a real departure from the scheme the Bruins faced last week at Stanford.
The Bruins have played some spread offenses this season, and Spanos felt that it was good experience for the defense but that Oregon has lots of unique features, formations, and weapons that the Bruins will have to focus on specifically for this weekend. One of those features will be De'Anthony Thomas who is returning from a right ankle injury that kept him out the last three weeks. Spanos says his defense will have to know where Thomas is on every play, bbut also that Oregon has talent everywhere and the Bruins will need to be prepared for a variety of looks and personnel.
Speaking of Savaiinaea, Jack Wang had a nice interview with him after practice. Isaako said his biggest adjustment last week was focusing on his technique and staying low, but he started feeling comfortable after a series in the game.
Savaiinaea finished the game with 6 tackles and is a very nice addition to the outstanding LB corps.
I think the matchup between our defense and their vaunted offense will be pretty interesting. Our D has played very well lately, and getting EK back in the middle is a big help. But the way Oregon's offense runs doesn't allow for a lot of substitution so the Bruins' depth, particularly on the D line and in the secondary, will be limited somewhat. We do have some great playmakers on D with Barr and Myles Jack so it will be fun to watch them go step for step with the Duck's playmakers on offense.