Sept. 23, 1999
UCLA is young -- and hampered by injuries -- but don't think the Bruins have given up on their hopes of repeating as the Pac-10 champions, says coach Bob Toledo.
The third-year UCLA coach, who took time off from his preparations for Stanford to chat with ESPN.com users recently, added that the Pac-10 race is up in the air and that it's too soon to tell which school has the team to beat. Toledo also addressed the quarterback situation at UCLA, whether the Bruins will return to using the option and how UCLA might avoid a loss to Stanford on Saturday.
An edited transcript from Toledo's Sept. 23 chat follows:
Roger: Coach Toledo, are you set on a healthy Cory Paus being the starter for the rest of the season, or is the permanent starter spot still open between Bennett and Paus? Also, how do you think the injury to Poli-Dixon will affect the receiver corps?
Bob Toledo: Paus is out for this game with bruised ribs. Paus is the deserving starter and has done nothing to lose his job.
Poli-Dixon broke his wrist and will most likely need surgery. He is definitely out for this game. They will cast it up for now and if it doesn't heal in a month they will perform surgery. So we will try and redshirt him with a medical redshirt.
Nick: How did you feel your team would do going into the season?
Bob Toledo: We knew we had a young team and an inexperienced quarterback and we weren't sure how they would respond. We had hoped that when we got to league play we would be 2-1 and that is where we are. But now we have a lot of injuries and this week we will travel with seven walkons, 15 freshmen and 20 sophomores. So we are young.
Sweeney: Do you think there is a team to beat in the Pac-10 right now, or is it completely up in the air?
Bob Toledo: I would have originally said Arizona, but now I think it is up in the air. It will be a couple weeks before things filter out, so it is much to early to pick a winner.
Tab: With a young, inexperienced offensive line, the running game looks a little anemic now. Is that going to change?
Bob Toledo: Right now we are starting a redshirt freshman, a sophomore, a junior, senior backup and another junior across the line, so it may be a question mark throughout the season. But we definitely need to improve if we want to run the ball better.
#1Bruin: Coach, UCLA opened the season with the option run with great success. It now seems to be abandoned. Any comment?
Bob Toledo: We used it some last week, but the reason I don't use it more is because of Paus. But now with Paus hurt and Bennett our only true runner, we will run it in spots.
RobZone300: Hi, Bob. I am curious your opinion of how Cade McNown will fair in the NFL. What talents do you think he has that will help him make it in the next level?
Bob Toledo: If you look at his numbers (height, weight, speed) you think he will struggle. But if you give him a chance, he shows what a great competitor he is. So given a chance, I think he will be very successful.
AnnuBruin: Coach, who's going to end up in the Sugar Bowl? Penn State-Florida State?
Bob Toledo: Taking a guess, I think Penn State is very good and so is Florida State. So they are my picks.
Teague: Do you think Arizona opening against PSU was a wise move by Tomey? Did that loss hurt the Pac-10?
Bob Toledo: As far as an opening game, we have had several here. If you are an experienced team and you want to make a run at the title, it is a good thing. So I am in favor of it in the right situation.
TB: Do you feel your team gets slighted by the media because you're on the west coast?
Bob Toledo: A lot of our games aren't seen. Our first three games have been at night, so they are not being seen by the eastern voters. So in that sense, I think it hurts us.
Mike Blazenski: How do you think your defense will do against Stanford's fast receivers -- and against the rest of the Pac-10?
Bob Toledo: The last two weeks they definitely have gotten our attention. They have 31 seniors on their team so they are probably the most experienced team in the conference. This week they will be going up against a UCLA team that is probably the most beat up and youngest team in the league.
Right now what makes them so dangerous is that they have gotten their running game going to enhance their passing game and it makes them very tough to stop. I don't know if we will be able to stop them. I just hope they don't put up 50 points on us.
That is all the time I have right now. We are looking forward to getting started in league play since we are the defending league champions. The Stanford game will be a good test for us and we consider it a "ring" game. If we win it is just another step toward winning the league title and getting that Pac-10 ring.