UCLA head coach Rick Neuheisel confirmed Aaron Hester’s suspension for the first half of UCLA’s matchup against Utah on Saturday for comments he made about the officiating of UCLA’s 29-28 win over Arizona State in Week 9. Hester received a reprimand from the Pac-12 and issued a public apology.
“You just can’t do that,” Neuheisel said. “It’s not something that he should talk about, it’s not something anybody should talk about. Those guys do the best they can, and certainly there’s frustration sometimes, but we can’t condone that.”
Hester missed practice with a twisted ankle, but Neuheisel said, “We were concerned, but he’s much better today, and given improvement from yesterday to today, he might be ready to do.”
Hester is still listed as doubtful on the team’s injury report.
Neuheisel was pleased with the team’s effort on Thursday, and for an important reason.
The Bruins are trying to pick up just their fourth conference win in Neuheisel’s tenure as they head to face the Utes, who beat UCLA in their last matchup at Rice-Eccles Stadium, 44-6, in 2007.
“It was a good Thursday, and it needed to be a good Thursday as we get ready to do something we haven’t good at over the course of the last few years, which is play a great game on the road,” Neuheisel said. “We’ve done it a couple times, but we’ve lacked consistency and for us to take the next step on the program, we have to be able to do that on the road.”
After missing the past six games because of neck injury, UCLA senior safety Tony Dye might be available to return for Utah.
Dye was previously thought to be out for the season after feeling pain and numbness because of a nerve issue and would be able to apply for a medical redshirt, but Neuheisel said that discussions with Dye and his family have led to the decision that Dye would try to return this year and forgo the redshirt.
“We would’ve liked to have Rahim (Moore) and Akeem (Ayers) back, too, and they decided to move on,” Neuheisel said. “Those are decisions families need to make and we need to support them.”
News and notes
Neuheisel confirmed the return of offensive tackle Xavier Su’A-Filo and said he was registered for the Winter term. … Neuheisel said Chris Ward would miss the Utah game and might need surgery to repair the patella in his left knee. … UCLA linebacker Jordan Zumwalt (hip pointer) will travel to Utah but it is still considered questionable.