Neuheisel On:

On Tuesday’s practice:
I was pleased to see the intensity of the work. We understand the quality of the opponent, and our guyas are aware that it will take a big-time effort to get it done.

On blaring “Hokey-Pokey” over the loudspeakers:
“We’ve got some guys who haven’t been listening to me when I say I’m going to make them go to class. We have a little bit of a regimen they’re going to have to go through now they’ve missed class. That’s the music they’re going to be doing it to. We call them the roly-polies, and hokey-pokey’s as close as I can get.”

On field position:
“It’s important when you feel like you need to protect your defense. When you feel like you’re playing defense with your offense. You’re trying to keep the ball away from them, you’re trying to make the opponent impatient. That’s not necessarily the case against a Stanford team that’s going to pound and pound and pound. I’m not sure it’s as meaningful statistic in games like this.”

On starting the same offensive line for four straight weeks:
“The offensive line might be the most important group that has that continuity. They just all have to be on the same page. The communication that’s going on in the trenches is huge, and when you get good at it, you start using dummy calls, and then the defense really doesn’t know what the heck’s going on.”

On competition on the offensive line:
“You still want to keep competition going – that’s always going to be the hallmark of a program – but you have to be able to count on guys. When another guy comes in, it’s like a badge of honor to be part of it.”

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I, Kia: Week 4

Micah Kia is out for the season with a torn right ACL.
But his mind still works and is mouth is still firing.
Hopefully, we can run this I, Kia feature every Tuesday, if things work out.
Here’s what he has to say before Week 4:

I’m excited that the guys are excited. To see how they have kind of a twinkle in their eyes. It’s to be expected. They’re ready to get into conference play, very exciting conference play, with the way things have turned out the last couple weeks.

It’s encouraging to see the Pac-10 conference as a whole; there is no week off so to speak. We can’t go into a single game thinking we can slide by guys. There are no lower standards. But, there is no type of fear. No team “fears” another team. It’s always cutthroat. We, as a whole, have a good understanding of that, and it helps to block out the hype.

Some teams when they go into a bye with a good record, they get a little relaxed. They feel like , ‘We’re doing well, let’s just take this time off, chill out a little bit, and we’ll start working next week.’ I think we did a good job of working hard last week. Had a couple days to get our legs back, Sunday was a great mental practice. I think they’re ready to bang some heads today.

But it can be difficult not to buy into this. Coach Neuheisel has stressed the last few days not to get distracted. It doesn’t matter what anybody says. What the papers say, what the stats say. What matters is who shows up on game day. The coaching staff has done a great job of stressing to the boys, don’t pay attention to anyone but us.

Still, that last drive last year was monumental. It’s those moments that fuel you for the next game. It’s that feeling that enables you to go through those tough workouts and the early mornings and the long days at school. It’s what every player lives for.

This year, it’s awesome that we’ve been able to have the same starting line. Knock on wood, we’ve been able to stay away from major injuries. It’s the biggest single position on the football team. Five players truly play as one, and there needs to be that understanding. An unspoken knowledge of what the guy next to you is going to do. That trust and that relationship is built during practice. But the overlying trust and dependability will then come during games. Being able to play next to the guy over and over again, you know how he plays it, and you play off it. Being able to have the same unit in there and grow together is outstanding.

We need to stay focused. Stay away from distractions. Don’t try to do anything extra. Play the game like how you practice it every day of the week. Stay away from the hype. Just do what we’re taught. It’ll be an interesting game. I’m excited to watch it.

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From the Other Side: Jim Harbaugh

On Toby Gerhart being up for the Heisman:
“Yes. I believe so. He means so much to our team. He’s a shining star to our team and that’s what an MVP does. He means the world to us. He’s probably the first one to point out his teammates and say they lift him up and make him a better player.”

On expecting a physical game vs. UCLA:
“That’s the way we’re seeing things. This is the best defensive line we’ve played, there’s no question about it. This is the best three linebackers we’ve played against and the best secondary we’ve played against. Without a doubt this is the best defense we’ve played against.”

On the talent of the Pac-10 Conference:
“Being in the conference, it’s apparent. It’s obvious. I don’t see the other conferences daily on film but it’s tough to imagine that there’s one out there that’s better.”

On Kevin Craft:
“I always had a lot of respect for him. I always thought he was their best quarterback. I always figured that he would be the quarterback that we’d be seeing. He’s resourceful. I think he’s very talented. He’s athletic, he’s a smart guy and he made some really big plays for them last year. And I’m not just talking about our game although he did very well. He threw for two touchdowns, including the game-winner, and 200 and it seemed like 50 yards or something. But other games too. I’ve seen him in hanging in the pocket and he made big-time throws. Just from my perspective, I really believe he’s their best quarterback.”

On Stanford’s special teams:
“Specifically with Chris (Owusu) and his ability to return the kickoff and make big plays, that’s been a real boost. It’s changed the complexion of two games for sure because they happened on the opening kickoff and we’re playing from ahead, and it affects field position for the rest of the game. That’s been good because we’ve had good field position. When teams haven’t kicked to him, they’ve had a short kick or a kick out of bounds and that really sets you up with good field position.”

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Eight for….Eight? With Alterraun Verner

Told you I had a lot from the Receptionist:

On the team expecting this success:
“We’ve expected that since the beginning. We knew we had the capabilities to do big things. For it to come true, it’s kind of a reality to us. Were trying to build off of that it as a team and not rest on anything.”

On the hype surrounding the Stanford matchup”
“We take every game basically the same. We know every game is big, especially from here on out. The Pac-10 is very unpredictable – any team can beat another at any given time. But we put weight in the fact that you have to bring you’re A-game every week. With us being 3-0 and them 2-0 in Pac 10, of course it’s a big game. But we’re not putting extra weight on it.”

On the hype affecting younger players:
“It might cross their minds because they are young. With veterans like me, Reggie, Brian, even veterans like Logan, Ryan Moya, we’ll squash that in the locker room. Especially us being UCLA, we’ve gotta always have that chip and play hard. We’ll let them know to treat this like any other game.”

On the benefits of the bye week:
“It definitely allowed us to be able to go over some technical things. We’ve shown a lot of excellence, but we also have a lot of room for improvement. We have to iron that out, the penalties, the lack of concentration in a lot of areas.”
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Neuheisel On: UCLA

On Kevin Craft getting reps with the ones in practice:
“Kevin played a consistent game the other night. I hope that he’ll improve just like I hope the rest of the team will improve. If he can have a consistent good performance, he’ll give us a chance to be successful. Richard Brehaut will continue to get reps and continue to compete.”

On last season’s last-minute win over Stanford, and how it bodes for Craft:
“I think all positive memoires are goods. They certainly beat the alternative. I think that can only be helpful. It’s a different team, a better team that we’re playing. Hopefully we are, too.”

On how the Kansas State win reaffirmed faith in Craft:
“I think it’s not so much their faith in him, I think they were just happy for him. He’s a very popular player amongst his teammates. They respect him for the way he’s handled the adversity, for the way he kept getting up despite some tough licks he took a year ago, both literally and figuratively. I think they admire the fact that he wasn’t pouting when it wasn’t going to be his turn. Competitors sense that in other competitors, and they respect it.”

On how last season’s turnovers affect this year:
“I haven’t thought about that, and hopefully Kevin isn’t thinking about it. This is a different team and Kevin is a diff player. I don’t want to give him any negative thoughts to harbor on. We all know we can’t turn the ball over and be a successful team. He’s got big boy shoulder pads. He can handle it.”

On the cornerback battle:
“Right now Sheldon Price is on top of that spot. We’ll wait until absolutely necessary to making that decision. It’s a comfort factor as we put in the defensive game plan, matchups, all that stuff goes into it. Right now (he’s starting) because of how he played against Kansas State and his size.”

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Neuheisel On: General Thoughts

Opening thoughts:
“The bye was important, and I think we got done what we needed to get done. Especially for the youngsters on the team. But we’ve got a tremendous task at hand here with Stanford. They are a very, very good football team, very well coached, very sound, and playing very well. It’s a huge challenge for us as we enter Pac-10 play. The experience of having been on the road at Tennessee will be helpful in that we know what it takes to concentrate on the road, to play in a tough environment and find a way to win.”

On the magnitude of the game:
“I think the players understand that this is our Pac-10 opener, and we’re playing the first-place team in the Pac-10. A very, very worthy football team. We’re going onto foreign soil again, and all those are challenges and have to be met with great concentration and great effort. For our fans, I’m excited that they’re mentioning the term ‘big game.’ That’s fun for them.’”

On how the Pac-10 is shaping up:
“I said it before we took the field against Kansas State, after what had taken place that day on TV, that the cards were being reshuffled in the Pac-10. Certainly last weekend did nothing to dispel that notion. It’s a very, very competitive conference and you better line up each weekend or you’re going to get one in the chops.”

On coming out to play every week:
“From where this team has come from were well aware that great performances are a mandatory thing to get victories in this league. You can’t happen into one. You have to play. I think our guys are excited about the chance to do it again. It’s an ABC game. It’s exciting. But we have to block out the excitement and make sure we’re getting the painstaking work done.”

On knowing where his team stands after three games:
“We have to line up and see how it goes before we know. But I do have optimism for the way were playing. I do believe we can go toe to toe. I think we’re improved, and hopefully the improvement right now will escalate.”

On what it will take for him to know for sure his talent level:
“Time. This is now the fifth week of an offensive line coming together. Even though we’ve had to change the QB position, the QBs are starting to get comfortable with some of the run schemes, play actions off of them. Now we have to settle in at the receiver spot so that we can get the timing down. I don’t think we have to wait for another season or another offseason or spring ball. We have to be urgent in the details.”

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