Here’s today’s football notebook…
After originally scheduling practices for Friday afternoon and this morning, UCLA head coach Rick Neuheisel took a look outside and changed his mind.
Both practices were cancelled, and while the team will meet for lunch today and to watch the Navy-Army battle that will determine their bowl scenario – a Midshipmen win puts the Bruins in the EagleBank Bowl on Dec. 29 in Washington, D.C. against Temple; a Black Knights win means no UCLA bowl. If the Bruins are indeed bowl-bound, they’ll practice on Sunday afternoon for the first time in more than two weeks.
“The weather was the primary reason (for cancelling practice),” Neuheisel said. “What we were going to get done today didn’t match the risk of somebody getting hurt. I thought it wise to go ahead and see how the game plays out tomorrow.”
As Tom Petty said ever so eloquently, though, the waiting is the hardest part.
The Bruins remain optimistic that they’ll play in the EagleBank Bowl, which debuted last season with a Wake Forest 29-19 win over Navy. UCLA met today to discuss the bowl scenario and the offseason plans, which, if UCLA is eliminated with an Army win, would start immediately. If the Bruins don’t play in the bowl, the team will reconvene on Jan. 4.
“They’re cautiously optimistic; I’m very optimistic,” Neuheisel said. “Not because I don’t think Army is a good team, I’m just optimistic because I think we’re deserving.”
The UCLA training staff has told Neuheisel that they expect redshirt freshman quarterback Kevin Prince to be fully recovered by midweek from a mild shoulder separation suffered against USC in UCLA’s regular season-ending 28-7 loss.
“He’s getting better, and these days will help him,” Neuheisel said. “I’m told that he should be at full strength somewhere at midweek. There’s reason for optimism with regard to that.”
More Bumps and Bruises
Sophomore linebacker Sean Westgate had an MRI of his sprained shoulder and the results were negative; Neuheisel expects him to be able to play. … Junior offensive guard Ryan Taylor is still nursing a sprained foot, but coaches are optimistic he’d be able to play. … Junior longsnapper Christian Yount is battling a case of mononucleosis and will be sidelined for a few days.
A Man of Many Seasons
Neuheisel and most of the coaching staff was on recruiting trips last week, before returning Friday, and now they might have to adjust to refocusing on 2009 once again. Offensive coordinator Norm Chow had a particularly important in-home visit with coveted defensive tackle Ricky Heimuli out of Salt Lake City, rated the No. 6 defensive tackle by Scout.com
“This is the pinnacle of wearing multiple hats,” Neuheisel said. “This is multi-tasking in an advanced way. The only thing that takes a backseat is Christmas shopping. That’s the one thing I haven’t got mastered.”