UCLA suspends four for Kansas State game

From UCLA media relations:

UCLA head coach Rick Neuheisel announded today that four players have been suspended from the team due to a violation of team rules and will miss this Saturday’s game against Kansas State.

Sophomore cornerback Courtney Viney, freshman running back Milton Knox and freshman wide receivers Morrell Presley and Randall Carroll will sit out the Kansas State game. The players will participate in team practices during the suspension.

“When you are a member of a team, you have a special commitment to the entities that make up that unit and to those that you represent,” said coach Neuheisel. “When someone falls short in that regard, there have to be consequences, and then, we move on.”

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Neuheisel On:

On Tuesday’s practice:
“It was a pretty good practice; like all install days, they have their rough spots. For the most part, I felt the guys showed good focuses and are mindful on the level of their opponents.”

On using Damien Thigpen immediately:
“He’s got that kind of gamebreaking ability. We have to find ways to give him chances. I could tell you how, but then I’d have to kill you.”

On Courtney Viney:
“The guy just finds ways to make plays. He’s not the biggest guy in the world, but you can’t tell him that. That’s why small people can play this game, because they don’t know they’re small and won’t buy into the thought they are. Courtney was ‘Johnny on the Spot’ the other night, and we needed him.”

On blasting crowd noise over the speakers later in practice:
“Gotta get time to talk things through as you learn the plan. I expect that we can settle them down here shortly. We’ve done that before around here. It wasn’t a completely novel idea. But human nature is, when you’re trying to concentrate and you learning new things, you want quiet. It’s like being in an automobile when you’re lost; first thing you do is turn off the radio.”

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Post-practice update

Hey folks,

Just got done talking to Courtney Viney – one bright kid – and I’ll have some interviews for you shortly.
Some quick tidbits:
*Kai Maiava sat out of practice with a sore back, with Jake Dean filling in at center, but he is expected to play on Saturday
*Glenn Love was hobbling throughout practice with a sore ankle, but is also expected to play
*Gavin Ketchum was out in full pads jogging a bit, but still is doubtful for Saturday
*Brian Price was out of practice, too, with an banged up leg, but he’ll play Saturday.

Coming soon: Rick Neuheisel, Courtney Viney, Richard Brehaut, Carnell Lake and Damien Thigpen…

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Four for Four with Frank Gansz, Jr.

After Saturday’s up-and-down performance on special teams, I figured I should catch up with Coach Gansz.

A brief recap: With Kai Forbath nursing a sore kicking leg, Jeff Locke stepped in and was excellent. Locke locked up (sorry, had to) the punting duties with several nice boots, including a coffin-corner kick that bounced out at the 1-yard line. Locke also added field goals of 53, 35 and 23 yards, and Gansz said he will help contribute on kickoffs, as well.

With two long touchdown returns – one by freshman Damien Thigpen and another by redshirt sophomore Courtney Viney – Gansz was excited by the possibility of added depth in the return game behind Terrence Austin.

On what he liked on Saturday:
“We were working against a look squad, but I was excited that our return game did big things. We expect it; we’re faster, we’ve got guys who know what they’re doing, we’re much more detailed with our work. We’re going to have those plays. We expect them.”

On the decision to redshirt Thigpen or use him:
“That won’t be my decision, that’ll be a staff decision, but he’s an explosive athlete. We saw that when we recruited him. It didn’t surprise me. We see it on the practice field all the time. He’s explosive and instinctive and very impressive.”

On Austin’s role in the return game:
“Terrence is the guy right now. But you’re going to need to have, as it bears out with most teams, a lot of depth. This gives us that. Terrence is definitely our guy, but obviously when you have a lot of guys who can run, it gives you some options to do different things with those guys.”

On Locke’s performance and the possibility of more playing time for the redshirt freshman:
“You need to have Plan B guys. He gives you that. He gives you another guy who can get it done if you need him. Jeff’s a talented guy. We feel good about him. That’s when you become good, when you start to have multiple guys who can step in and get it done.”

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Report Card – KR/PR

Kick Return

Grade: A+**** (To the fourth power)
High Marks: Bruin fans, welcome Damien Thigpen. Facing poor coverage, Thigpen was brilliant, sprinting to a 70-yard punt return touchdown and a 61-yard kickoff return. Courtney Viney, meanwhile, added a 94-yard punt return touchdown.

Low Marks: ……..Nothing.

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