Aug. 28, 2001
Rodney Carter (Carson, CA)
It's been a pretty cool summer in California. How do you prepare your team for the humidity and heat that you will endure in Alabama?
"To be honest, there is no way you can prepare for that type of heat and humidity. All you can do is make sure your team is in good physical condition and then hopefully we'll be able to give each player a break from time to time during the course of the game so they don't get totally exhausted. But it's going to be hot and it's going to be humid. There might even be some rain and thunder showers, but it's something that we expect and we're going to deal with it."
Chester Whitehouse (Cleveland, OH)
How would you rank the Pac-10 in relation to the other conferences in the country?
"I think the Pac-10 has proven that it's an outstanding conference. You look at Oregon and they beat Texas in the Holiday Bowl. Washington beat Purdue in the Rose Bowl and Oregon State beat Notre Dame in the Fiesta Bowl. A lot of our teams are getting recognition right now. I think it's a great conference. I think the way you determine if a conference is really good or not is by looking at what the lesser teams are like. The teams at the bottom of our conference definitely have the ability to knock off the teams at the top and I think that makes us a really solid conference as a whole."
Bob Phillips (Baton Rouge, LA)
Do you think Tuscaloosa is as tough a place to play as anywhere in the country?
"There is no question that this will be a very difficult game for us. We'll be in the south and we know how much they love their football down there. They have a new coaching staff and there will be a new enthusiasm. Add the fact that we beat them last year and there is a revenge motive there. I think this game will be wild, fun and exciting, but it will be very difficult as well."
Christopher Renson (Los Angeles)
What makes Alabama a strong team? Also, what will be UCLA's greatest challenge in that game?
"I think the thing that makes them a strong team is that defensively, their front seven is outstanding. They have what a lot of people consider is the best defensive line in the country. They have a couple of outstanding linebackers in (Victor) Ellis and (Saleem) Rasheed. Offensively, they have Freddie Milons, who is a game breaker. They have some speed at tailback and have a big tight end in Terry Jones. They also have two quarterbacks, which makes it difficult for us because you never know quite what to expect. For us, our greatest challenges will be traveling a long way, playing in the heat, which we are not used to, and playing in front of a hostile crowd. We haven't been very successful the last two years playing on the road so I think we need to worry about ourselves as opposed to worrying about Alabama."
Matt Bartos (Goleta, CA)
Do you think this year's team, with such a strong upperclass presence, is poised to win the Pac-10 and national championship? What are the keys that make the difference between a good year and a championship one?
"We have more seniors (23) than we've ever had. I think we have outstanding leadership right now and a lot of guys with a wealth of experience. We have eight returning starters on defense and seven on offense. We also have our punter, kicker and long snapper returning. I think with those guys, plus a few talented recruits, we have a chance to have an outstanding team. To win a national championship, you have to be a little lucky and you have to be good. I think we have a chance to be pretty good, now we have to be lucky. As for the difference between a good year and a championship year, the main key is to keep everybody healthy. When we won the Pac-10 a couple of years ago basically our team stayed healthy all year. If you look at Oklahoma last year, they didn't lose any players all season. Neither did Oregon State. I also think it comes down to making big plays in crunch time. One of the things that happened last year is that we lost five games by eight or less points. That just means we didn't make the big plays down the stretch to win the close games."