All in a name

Since you’ll probalby need to know how to pronounce receiver Devin Lucien’s name this season, it’s `Loo-see-en.’
“My teammates call me Luscious Loo-scious,” Devin said.
And of course, if you still don’t know how to pronounce Richard Brehaut’s last name, it’s Bree-ho. We still don’t know if he’ll be the starting quarterback, playing in a two-QB rotation or just the backup. Much to everyone’s chagrin.

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The QBs want to know already

Rick Neuheisel is well aware QBs Kevin Prince and Richard Brehaut want to know who’s starting already. And fans and teammates and … well, he assumes there are other interested parties, too.
“I’m sure they do (want to know),” Neuheisel said. “Moreover, I think their parents do. Not trying to be harsh on anybody. Just making sure both continue to improve.”
The parents comment seemed interesting, so I asked him if he had any meetings with their parents.
In a word? “no.”

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Neuheisel feeling no pressure to name starter

Rick Neuheisel will name a starting quarterback early next week, he said, but he’s not feeling the heat to name one. Been through this a time or two, eh? Even though he said he might use two quarterbacks, one of them has to start the season opener.
“I’ll play with that in my own mind,” Neuheisel said. “I don’t have any real feeling of urgency with respect to that. Both have started. Both have played.”
He did say he would name a starter early in the week so that it’s not ”uncomfortable for anybody.”

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Post-practice update

*Joe Fauria made a nice, one-handed catch in the back of the end zone for a touchdown at the end of a two-minute drill on a pass from Kevin Prince.
*Andrew Abbott was hobbling around after his coverage on a deep route and came out, but then went back in a couple of plays later.
*Kevin Prince and Richard Brehaut would rather Rick Neuheisel name a starting quarterback, but both said they’ll do whatever is best for the team, even if that means UCLA might play both quarterbacks.
*Neuheisel is most looking forward to the tomorrow’s closed scrimmage at the Rose Bowl because of the heat, which he said will serve the Bruins well for their season opener at Houston. It was plenty hot in Westwood Thursday morning, too.

More to come later this afternoon.

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Bruins get their heartbeat back

Patrick Larimore is not really sure if he was born this way or made this way, frothy at the mouth, frosty everywhere else, ready to deliver all the pain he suffered last year on anyone not wearing a blue and gold jersey.

The UCLA middle linebacker was on his way to a fine sophomore season, all-conference potential written all over his snarling face, before he dislocated his shoulder against Oregon in a 60-13 loss in Week 7. Talk about adding insult to injury.

Now Larimore feels slighted, ignored, embarrassed about how his season ended.

“It was really hard for me to watch my teammates, my brohters, out there fighting without me,” Larimore said. “I wasn’t able to help them. Losing a starting Mike is hard for any defense – youre making all thee kinds of calls, checks – that has a huge impact how the defense moves, gels, feels, the intensity that can be brought.”

No one knows that more than Clark Lea, UCLA’s linebacker coach, who had to turn to junior Steve Sloan and ultimately true freshman Jordan Zumwalt after Larimore was lost for the year. Sloan lacked Larimore’s athleticism and instincts, Zumwalt lacked Larimore’s experience and know-how; Lea recalled late-night cram sessions with Zumwalt just trying to get him to know where to line up, much less call the defense and make checks at the line with authority.

With Larimore back and healthy, that burden is back on his massive shoulders, and now, he’s starting to embrace it.

“I’m not that outspoken of a person in general, but I’ve had to grow into it, and I’m still growing into being even more of a vocal presence on the field,” Larimore said. “I think middle linebackers are made in terms of physicality, the grinding, being tough. But you have to grow into that.”

That’s what impresses Rick Neuheisel the most about Larimore.

Neuheisel takes the diplomatic approach between the nature-versus-nurture debate, understanding that while most middle linebackers appear to walk, talk and bark the same, that wasn’t by design, but by work.

“Certainly they are born into the size, but to learn the game and understand the game like a quarterback, it takes some maturation, some development,” Neuheisel said. “They are born because you’ve got the right personality, the right body type. But they’re made because of the study.”

Lea, though, has come to appreciate the innate personality traits that come out of the middle linebacker, something he sees in Larimore.

“You think of the best MLBs in the game, and you see guys in similar molds, cut from the same cloth,” Lea said. “You see their passion, the way they play, the way they interact with teammates – all those things come together for them. It’s a heartbeat. That position, calling fronts, making tight calls, making all those checks – that makes you the heartbeat of the defense.”

Well, UCLA has its heartbeat back.
And it’s getting louder and louder.

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Post-Practice Update

* Not much on the quarterback battle, as both were pretty efficient today. I have noticed how well Kevin Prince is running the play-fake lately, as he’s juked all 11 defenders twice in the last two days.

* One thing I’m noticing from the receivers: It appears they’re using their hands a lot more this year to catch the ball, as opposed to using the body, and while it has led to a decent amount of drops, they’re also “catching” the ball better. Shaq Evans and Josh Smith both had grabs over the middle that looked really fluid, in stride and sharp.

* Kicking woes continue. Kip Smith was off today, badly, and Jeff Locke shanked his attempt at the end of a two-minute drill at the end of practice. Someone’s gotta turn it on, or this could be an issue for a while.

* Dalton Hilliard saw a lot of time with the ones today, and Neuheisel said that he and Riley were battling it out of the position. Hilliard missed spring and Riley missed a portion of summer, so the two are pretty even as they both have been working back toward full strength.

* Chris Ward is on crutches and in a walking boot, but he said it’s a low ankle sprain as opposed to the dreaded high-ankle deal. He said he’s still in pretty bad pain, and there’s no timetable for his return.

* Taylor Embree’s tests were negative and he’s still just working back from a strain, though it continues to drag on. There’s still no timetable for him, either.

* Nelson Rosario missed practice because of sickness, but Alex Mascarenas was back in full action after recovering from a concussion.

* Neuheiel had this to say about former UCLA F-back Morrell Presley, who was arrested on Aug. 17 in Maricopa County, Ariz., on charges of third-degree criminal trespassing and burglary: “I’m disappointed for him. I enjoyed the young man and I’m sorry he’s no longer here. He made the choice that it wasn’t in his best interest to be here, and hopefully he can learn from his mistakes and become productive again.”

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