Neuheisel ON: Welcome back…

UCLA head coach Rick Neuheisel took his first conference call with reporters today, a few days before the start of spring football.
Did I have to pull over at a Dairy Queen to make sure I got on the call during my drive back from the Bay Area? Yes, yes I did. Did I get a Blizzard? No, no I did not…unfortunately.

Opening Statement:
“Spring is sprung here at UCLA and it’s as always an exciting time. You look forward to kind of building your team, start with the basics in speed development, get to test it out on the field, take all the info gathered from those two things, and then you come and whittle that into shape as you start the season. This is a big piece of the puzzle and one we’re very excited about. It’s not just to learn who you are and what you have. It’s about really testing things out and finding out exactly who’s going to be capable of being a stalwart for you. We’re very, very excited. The intensity needs to go up in comparison to springs before. Hopeful we’ll see progress.”

Are you focusing on any particular position?
“That was asked earlier and no, I don’t think there’s any one position. I don’t want anyone to think of first string, second string. I want them to think of being a player on this team. We’re going to try a lot of combinations – maybe not so much in the offensive line where we’ll play with strings – but everywhere else, we’re going to put players in there. See who can rise to the opportunity. I don’t want quarterbacks to go with certain receivers. I want to see which wide receivers can jump to the front, quarterbacks, running backs, linebackers, whoever gets the chance, and see if they belong at that level.”

How open is the quarterback competition?
“We have a starter in Kevin Prince and he deserves to be named that. Very, very solid freshman season. But I don’t want to water down Richard Brehaut’s hopes of earning a spot in this lineup. There will be plenty reps for them to prove that they’re going to take us to the next step which is the top division of the Pac-10.”

How far behind is Richard Brehaut?
“Richard’s biggest issue is really coming to an understanding of what were trying to do off. He can memorize what’s going on, but if stuff didn’t go as planned, or if something caught his attention, there were too many little things that were being forgotten or misplaced. As he develops, he needs to learn more and more how to play.”

Do you worry about depth at quarterback?
“Sure. We worry about depth not just at quarterback but all over the place. We don’t have the incoming freshmen who can help with that. I’m excited to watch the three quarterbacks play, especially Nick Crissman, to see if his shoulder will hold. I’m also excited to see some of these walk-on guys, Clayton Tunney and Ted Landers, to see if they can play at this level.”