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    Monday, December 11, 2006

    Guest Columnist: Adam de Jong, Daily Bruin

    Adam de Jong, senior sports writer for the Daily Bruin in Los Angeles was kind enough to answer a few questions regarding the UCLA football team. He will also be covering the Emerald Bowl for the paper. Thanks to Adam for his answers to my questions.

    Q: Who are the marquee players for UCLA?

    A:. The marquee players for UCLA are Chris Markey and Marcus Everett on offense and Bruce Davis and Justin Hickman on defense. UCLA quarterback Pat Cowan has a limited ceiling in any given game, and he must get help from Markey out of the backfield to setup the pass. Once that happens, though, Everett is going to have to be his primary target on third downs. Everett was one of the unsung heroes in UCLA's 13-9 win over USC because he was able to convert three big third down conversions.

    Q:. FSU's strength this year is in its defense. How would you assess UCLA's offensive line against a defense like FSU?

    A: Each team comes into the game with a strong defense and a struggling offense. For the Bruin offense to be able to do anything against the Seminole defense, the left side of the O-Line will need to play well. Freshman All-American Aleksey Lanis and junior guard Shannon Tevaga are pro-caliber players on the line, and they have to create runing lanes for Markey, who has good vision but lacks acceleration through the hole.

    Q: FSU has two quality receivers in Greg Carr and Chris Davis. How woud you rate UCLA's secondary against FSU's receivers?

    A: UCLA's secondary plays mostly in a man-to-man coverage while relying on Davis and Hickman to get to the quarterback. Junior Trey Brown is solid even though he is a bit undersized. Junior Rodney Van has a world of talent but is often susceptible to the big play, especially in man coverage. Look for the Seminoles to go after Van early and often. The wild card in the group is freshman Alterraun Verner, who is a nickelback with a penchant for big plays.

    Q: Does UCLA employ a balanced attack offense? How do you rate their running back Markey?

    A: UCLA's offense has been more balanced ever since UCLA coach Karl Dorrell took over some of the play calling duties from OC Jim Svoboda. Look for the Bruins to use Markey as their primary back, but also give Chane Moline carries in short yardage situations. Markey is a solid back who runs harder as the game goes on, but he is not a big play threat. In the passing game, Cowan is at his best when he is on the run and improvising. Conversely, he seems to get flustered if he stands too long in the pocket. Think of a poor man's Jake Plummer. Dorrell will use bootlegs and short passes to the tight ends and running backs.

    Q: What is your prediction for the game?

    A: Prediction: It's a defensive struggle, but the edge goes to a Bruin team that has won 3 in a row and playing on the West Coast. 23-16 UCLA.

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