In preparation for Texas A&M football’s season opening contest against UCLA we sat down with Michael Chavez at Go Joe Bruin to talk about UCLA’s 2017 squad.
The eyes of the nation will be locked in on the Rose Bowl on Sunday, September 3. Texas A&M will finish off their home and home rotation with UCLA with a trip to California. Each team has lost some familiar faces. In an effort to get to know the 2017 UCLA squad we sat down with Associate Site Expert Michael Chavez of FanSided’s Go Joe Bruin to talk about the team.
In last year’s contest Texas A&M was able to get to Josh Rosen and interrupt his passing lanes. He was limited to one touchdown in the Aggies’ 31-24 overtime victory. Rosen missed time last season with an injury, but he’ll be back and ready for the Aggies one more time. For those Aggies headed to the game this year, be sure to catch his food recommendations at the end.
Q: For any Aggies that might not know, what were some of the biggest roster changes for UCLA this offseason? Any new faces we should expect to see on the field this year?
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Michael: On the field this team will look largely the same. Kolton Miller replaces Connor McDermott at left tackle and Andre James mans the right guard position. The strength of this UCLA offensive line will be on the left side.
Perhaps the biggest name Aggie fans should get to know is phenom freshman Jaelan Phillips. Likely a starter by the time Sept. 3 rolls around, Phillips is a complete package at the DE position. Not saying Phillips is Myles Garrett but he has the potential be that kind of game wrecker.
Q: UCLA seemed to struggle after Josh Rosen was injured last year. How much of the team’s success rests on his shoulders?
Michael: Last year everything was on the shoulders of Josh Rosen. The offensive philosophy was power based and yet the UCLA offense wasn’t really built for that and as a result there was no running game. If you don’t have a running game to worry about you can pretty much tee off on a quarterback which teams did until Rosen was knocked out in week six.
This year the offense should be more friendly to the skill set of the Bruins and, more importantly, more friendly to the backups. Should Rosen go down UCLA should be able to manufacture plenty of offense.
Q: What are the expectations for this team? Do you see them getting back to a bowl this year?
Michael: I think this team should be able to win seven games if they play up to their potential and could grab an eighth or ninth victory if they can catch a break in a couple of games that I think will be close.
Now I know my prediction might not match up with a chunk of the UCLA media out there but let me explain. I already predicted that the Bruins will win their first three games before they open PAC-12 play and will play a few teams in the PAC-12 South that are going to be looking to replace a number of starters.
I think they get past Colorado, Arizona, Arizona State and Cal. Utah and Oregon will be 50/50 games and even Washington and USC shouldn’t be called losses just yet. However I digress. I do think the Bruins win at least seven this year and get back to a bowl game.
Q: What are one or two things that UCLA must do to beat Texas A&M?
Michael: If the Bruins are going to get after the quarterback. If it’s Nick Starkel they’ll need to fluster him with an interior rush and not allow him to get into an early rhythm. Neither of these teams were great at stopping the run in 2016 so UCLA needs to do a better job of containing Keith Ford and Trayveon Williams this time around.
Q: Any tourist tips, favorite restaurants or must-see attractions for Aggies making their way out to the Rose Bowl?
Michael: The city of Pasadena is one of the most beautiful places in California and there are great places to go in almost any direction. If you’re in the mood for a legendary hamburger make sure you hit up Pie and Burger on Lake. They’ve been featured in almost every local publication and were spotlighted on the Food Network.
If you’re looking for good food, good drinks and most importantly a place to watch the game if you didn’t score tickets is Barney’s Beanery. Just be warned it is a Bruin hangout so prepared to be heckled a little bit.