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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