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Pregame Guesses: San Bernardino 2013 Edition

The Bruins football team has plenty of questions to answer in the 2013 season.

Who will take over for Johnathan Franklin in the Bruins backfield?
Who will take over for Johnathan Franklin in the Bruins backfield?
Stephen Dunn

Queen of the Stone Age - No One Know (live Letterman Show) (via gagasvideos)

(This week’s song is No One Knows by Queens of the Stone Age. It’s a live performance from the David Letterman show. I picked it for a couple of reasons. QOTSA are, of course, from the Inland Empire. Technically, they are from Riverside County and the team is practicing in San Bernardino County – but it’s all just the land of the great meth lab to me. I picked the performance from the Letterman show, because when Letterman first went on the air, my college roommates and I used to stay up late to watch his show which had just come on the air. For those who can’t remember, this was when the UCLA football team didn’t just play its home games in the Rose Bowl, we actually went to the Rose Bowl game that’s played on January 1st. At least in those days it was played on Jan One – now, who knows? Third, it’s a good song. The new QOTSA record is pretty good, too, btw. Finally – when it comes to UCLA football this season – no one knows. And I mean: No. One. Knows.)

Has it really been eight months give or take since we’ve done Pregame Guesses? And how many years has it been since we stole borrowed the idea from Halos Heaven? I don’t know. I don’t even know if Halos Heaven still does Pregame Guesses. I don’t like train wrecks, so I haven’t brought myself to read that site for a while.

Well, last time we did PGs, it was the Holiday Bowl Edition. That was a fun one, huh? I can honestly say the highlight of that evening was freezing my ass off while getting harassed by stumbling drunks as I made my way from the trolley station back to my Gaslamp District hotel. Baylor was our third straight loss and our blow out defeat of the season.

Good times.

Now, it’s a new season and except for a two-day detour to San Diego to screw around with the Navy Seals, Jim Mora has his team back training at the lovely confines of Cal State San Bernardino. Go Coyotes!!!

Everyone seems pretty happy that the team went back to CSSB – you know, bonding and getting tough in the heat and all that jazz. Me? I’m neutral. I can’t quite stop remembering that the team lost its last three games and can’t help but wonder if they didn’t just tire out down the stretch and what effect the early season training in the heat had on the team. I do realize that two of those losses came to a Stanford team that was honestly better than we were, but that shellacking by Baylor still leaves a bitter taste. (No offense Baylor, I’m not saying you weren’t a good team. I’m just a little shocked at how much better you were than us. If you’d beaten us by four and the game was close in the fourth quarter it wouldn’t resonate so much today.) But, where there and we’ll see what happens in the last few games of this season. Hopefully, those games will matter.

My goal each week during the football season is to relate what I’m feeling about the team – as Nestor says, "capture the zeitgeist." What’s tough right now is to really have a feel for anything. I’m not one for analyzing the recruiting class (Terry Donahue taught me that you can’t grade a recruiting class until three years later) and practice reports, while entertaining, are like candy bars – they are fun to consume, but nutritionally meaningless. Every team looks good in practice. Every season we look good in practice.

So, what I’m feeling at this point is mostly a sense of curiosity, I’m mostly focused on what I feel are a legitimate set of questions that this team will need to answer. I’ll throw out a bunch for you to kick around in the comments, then on to the guesses.

Who is going to replace Johnathan Franklin?

This is, to me, the number one issue facing the team at this point. All eyes are on Brett Hundley at this point, so much so that I think people are forgetting that Jetski carried this offense at crucial points last season and there isn’t a back on the team right now who has demonstrated that they are ready to carry that load yet.

Is there anyone who hasn’t circled October 19 and 26 on their calendars?

In one eight day stretch, we play Stanford and Oregon who are ranked #2 and #5 respectively by Sports Illustrated. And we play them on the road. To me, that’s when we’re going to find out what type of team we’ve got, maybe even what type of program we’ve got. I’m not even saying we need to win both of those games. Alabama might not win both of those games. But we need to compete in both of those games and honestly, we need to come away with a win it at least one of those games.

Will the offensive line show significant improvement this season?

Last year, Brett Hundley was sacked too many times and we had too many penalties. Credit where credit is due: Franklin had a big season. But he may have made the line look better than it really was. The good news is, most of the starters are back, are more experienced and come in with a full off season of working with Sal Alosi. Only Jeff Baca needs replacing and from I can tell true freshman Caleb Benenoch is working out in the right guard position. I’ve no problem with that – the real questions are who is Adrian Klemm going to find to back up what looks like a pretty solid starting five. (Save This Question: We’ll be able to sub out "Adrian Klemm" with "Steve Alford" in a couple of months.)

Will the team miss tight ends coach Marques Tuiasosopo, who is now the quarterbacks coach at Washington? Ummm … no. No way. If I didn’t mention it, you wouldn’t have even remembered that he was gone. Why do we even need a tight ends coach,? There are only like three tight ends on the team, anyway. I only added in this question to see if anyone was still reading this post.

How much will we miss Jeff Locke and Kevin McDermott?

Even if you consider Anthony Barr, Datone Jones, Hundley and Franklin – it’s not tough to make the case that Jeff Locke was the best player on our team last season. He averaged over 43 yards per punt last year while punting 77 times. And that average needs to be considered with a grain of salt, because Locke dropped a lot of kicks inside the 20 when he was going for field position and not sheer distance. His replacement is a freshman from Florida, Sean Covington, who reportedly spent part of the summer working out with Locke.

Kevin McDermott was our four-year, long snapper. You didn’t remember that, did you? The reason you didn’t remember that is because McDermott didn’t make any bad snaps for you to remember. I don’t know who the new long snapper is, by the way. But the point is, our punting game was a weapon last year (not in the idiotic, Rick Neuheisel, "punting is winning" way) and we won’t know what we had until someone hikes the ball over someone’s head or shanks a punt in the fourth quarter.

Who’s our backup quarterback?

We didn’t really need a backup quarterback last season because Hundley was mostly healthy and mostly great. But, we did have Richard Brehaut and Kevin Prince and while they weren’t the greatest as starters, they were reliable seniors as reserves. Now, we’ve got Jerry Neuheisel, T.J. Millweard and Asiantii Woulard. I’m sure the coaches would prefer that Woulard redshirt (and I’m sure they’d prefer Hundley take every snap). That said, if we do need a second string quarterback, the decision will not only impact this season, but possible future seasons as well.

And with that, here are your Pregame Guesses, San Bernardino 2013 edition:

  1. How many games do you feel UCLA will win in 2013-14?
  2. Who do you believe will get the most carries from the tailback position this season?
  3. What do you think is the single, biggest question facing UCLA football this season?