BRUINS SEEK CONSISTENCY

What up Bruins fans, this is Vinny Bonsignore. I’m filling in for Jon today and we just got finished with Coach Neuheisel, who made it very, very clear the Bruins can no longer accept anything less than the type of effort they delivered against Cal Saturday. Here is a short recap:

One of the stats that rankles UCLA coach Rick Neuheisel more than others is the Bruins 0-3 record this year following wins.

It doesn’t take a genius to figure out in order for the Bruins to get on roll, they have to string wins together, but that will never happen if they can’t take the effort, resolve and focus from a winning performance into the following week.

That is the objective this week when UCLA hosts Arizona State at the Rose Bowl Saturday after beating Cal 31-14 Saturday.

“It’s going to take a week of focus and resolve,” Neuheisel said at his weekly media conference Monday. “That’s what it took last week.”

The trick, of course, is maintaining that same mindset.

“We can’t go back,” Neuheisel said.

He’s counting on the Bruins now understanding the level they can elevate their game to and classifying anything less as unacceptable.

Granted, UCLA beat Cal after a bitter, embarrassing loss the previous week at Arizona in front of a national television audience. There was no shortage of anger and motivation to rebound against Cal, and the Bruins played as such.

But to deviate from that would be extremely upsetting, according to Neuheisel.

“It’s exactly what I said to the team, there’s good news and better news,” Neuheisel said. “The good news is we responded. The better news is we now know what we are capable of. And to accept anything less than that would be absolutely ridiculous on every one of our parts. Coach and player alike have to bring it like we did last week.”

(by the way, Nelson Rosario and Dietrich Riley both expect to be goes for Saturday’s game.

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McDonald named Pac-12 Defensive POW

UCLA redshirt freshman safety Tevin McDonald was named Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Week for his three-interception performance in a 31-14 win over Cal on Saturday at the Rose Bowl.

The Bruins made the most of McDonald’s afternoon, the team’s first three-pick defensive performance since Rahim Moore’s three-interception game against San Diego State in 2009.

UCLA scored 24 points off five Cal turnovers, including 17 points following McDonald three interceptions, which tied a Pac-12 freshman record.

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Conference call notebook

It appears even a 17-point win following a 36-point loss can do the impossible: Take some of the sunshine out of Rick Neuheisel.

The relentlessly positive coach was given a stern tutorial on bravado after a 48-12 loss to Arizona on a highly publicized ESPN Thursday night game followed a week of discussion about the Pac-12 South race.

Now, with a potentially race-deciding matchup with Pac-12 South leader Arizona State on Saturday at the Rose Bowl, Neuheisel is being a bit demure, sedated, his passion bucket springing a leak.

“We don’t want to talk about that,” Neuheisel said. “We’re going to talk about playing Arizona State and playing our best and seeing if we can’t find a way to get one more point than they can. Our mindset needs to be on what we do rather than what might or might not be. Certainly we learned that lesson the hard way.”

This much is true, though: Saturday’s matchup will likely determine who faces the Pac-12 North champion, likely either No. 4 Stanford or No. 6 Oregon in the first Pac-12 title game.

The Sun Devils head to the Rose Bowl at 4-1 in conference play, their lone conference blemish coming in a 41-27 loss to the Ducks in Week 7, while UCLA, at 3-2, could pull even with Arizona State with a victory. Though the Bruins are tied with USC in the divisional standings, the Trojans are ineligible for postseason play, and no other Pac-12 South opponent has more than one conference win.

Neuheisel celebrated the 31-14 win over the Bears but is measuring his words a bit more this weekend than after the Bruins’ previous win over Washington State. Both beat the Arizona debacle, however.

“This was more fun, I guarantee you,” Neuheisel said. “(But there’s) still lots to do. We can’t sit – we’ve lost four times this year and responded each time. We’ve won three times prior to this one and not done the job. What changes this week is our effort and attitude.”

Plug Uglies
The UCLA offensive line had its best effort in weeks, even with extensive shuffling up front.
With sophomore guard Chris Ward sidelined with an ankle injury and sophomore guard Alberto Cid suspended for the first half against the Bears, the Bruins went with sophomore Greg Capella and redshirt freshman Wade Yandall at the guard spots.
The mixing-and-matching did not matter as UCLA gained 294 rushing yards, with Yandall playing all but one series.
“Wade played really well,” Neuheisel said. “We’ll have great competition between he and Alberto this week, and with Chris Ward getting back, we’ll have him competing with Capella, who also played well.”

Bumps and Bruises
UCLA sophomore safety Dietrich Riley was released from Huntington Hospital on Sunday morning after a horrific collision with Cal running back Isi Sofele in the fourth quarter. Riley was carted off the field and taken to the hospital for precautionary tests, and Neuheisel said he’s unsure of his status for this week.
“He checked out fine,” Neuheisel said. “He was here today, looked great. Said he’s good to go. Doctors want to be careful, see him (today).”
Neuheisel also said that junior quarterback Richard Brehaut was scheduled for x-rays today on his fractured ankle, from which he is recovering quicker than anticipated.

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UCLA v. Cal Report Card

RESULT: UCLA 31, Cal 14
RECORD: 4-4
WEEK 8 GPA: A-

QUARTERBACKS
A-
Kevin Prince was near-perfect in his execution of the Pistol offense

RUNNING BACKS
B+
Derrick Coleman making his case for more time with three scores

WIDE RECEIVERS
B
While passing game was muted with four suspensions, those who played did so admirably

OFFENSIVE LINE
A
Patchwork crew with a fantastic effort against a very good defensive line

DEFENSIVE LINE
A
Could Datone Jones have found a home in the interior?

LINEBACKERS
B
Much-improved effort, and use of Aramide Olaniyan in pass rush was impressive

DEFENSIVE BACKS
A+
Simply a great job against Cal’s star wideouts, with Tevin McDonald coming up huge (three picks)

SPECIAL TEAMS
A
Between Jeff Locke and Tyler Gonzalez, UCLA is feeling pretty good about kicking game now

COACHING
A
A week after things appeared to be falling apart, Bruins rebound with tremendous performance

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Weekly Q&A

Fire away with questions for this week’s Q&A. Please don’t post new questions on the answers section, because I don’t always check the comments. Save them for next week.

Thanks
Jon

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Kendricks wins brother battle

Brothers Eric and Mychal Kendricks made their presence known on Saturday.

Eric Kendricks, a backup outside linebacker for UCLA, had five tackles while older brother Mychal picked up four tackles for the Bears.

The elder Kendricks has the season edge with 59 tackles and 6.5 tackles-for-loss, while Eric has played well in a backup role for the Bruins, registering 43 tackles and three tackles-for-loss, including a crucial takedown of Cal tight end Anthony Miller for a 5-yard loss in the third quarter in the UCLA red-zone.

After an Aramide Olaniyan stopped Bears quarterback Zach Maynard on the next play, Cal kicker Giorgio Tavecchio missed a 42-yard field goal, preserving a 17-14 UCLA lead.

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Cold as Rice

With four UCLA wide receivers suspended and senior Nelson Rosario limping with an ankle injury, former walkon Jerry Rice, Jr., had little time to adjust to his first major game action. Rice Jr. caught two passes for 17 yards, both second on the team to Rosario’s five catches for 56 yards, eliciting chants of “Jerry! Jerry!” from a crowd that clearly remembered the name.

“I was trying to zone in,” Rice said. “I didn’t hear it. What I did was take advantage of my opportunity and make sure I knew what to do in every situation. My goal was to get a win and start off 1-0 in my college career.”

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Bruins rally around Riley

Just as the Rose Bowl was starting to rock, a Derrick Coleman 20-yard touchdown giving the UCLA football team a 10-point lead early in the fourth quarter, the Bruins were brought alarmingly back down to earth in their 31-14 win over Cal on Saturday night at the Rose Bowl.

After smashing into Bears running back Isi Sofele on 1st-and-10 at UCLA 26-yard line, sophomore safety Dietrich Riley fell to the ground and did not move.

He stayed on the ground for an extended period before being placed onto a stretcher and carted off the field, at which point he waved to the crowd and gave thumbs up. Riley was taken immediately to Huntington Hospital for tests, which all came out negative, and a UCLA athletics department spokesman said later that Riley had regained feeling and movement in all his extremities.

“I think it was a stinger where he felt like he couldn’t feel anything and then the feeling came back,” UCLA head coach Rick Neuheisel said. “Caution is the order of the day, and they took care of him.”

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