Neuheisel On:

On Thursday’s practice:
“I’m very excited about the way we practiced today. This is what we needed. I feel much better about the week, and very excited to practice Sunday. We’re 0-0, we start a new season, and we’re eager to get off to a good start.”

On winning the Pac-10:
“When you’re at UCLA, and you walk into a hall of fame that has 103 national championship trophies, you can’t become part of that scene until you win a Pac-10 championship. That season starts this next weekend.”

On Christian Ramirez’ recovery:
“We had him in a little scrimmage, got him some live action there at the end, and I hope he’s ok. He got up a little hobbled there. He’s got to start playing through that.”

On Gavin Ketchum’s recovery:
“He’s getting there. It’s been a while. He doesn’t seem right now willing to explode out of it. But that’s why this bye week is so important.”

On Kevin Prince losing weight with a broken jaw:
“He’s a put together kid. He’s been working out. He’s been running. He’ll be fine.”

On the battle at cornerback with Aaron Hester down:
“Sheldon Price is now competing, and Courtney has to win that job back from him. Sheldon has had the job. We’ll have plenty more opportunities the next couple weeks to see who’s ready to play.”

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Neuheisel On:

On today’s practice:
“A little sluggish today. Defensively we played OK, but offensively we were sluggish. Hot day, not a game this weekend – probably to be expected. I’m disappointed by it, because I talked about those things and we didn’t get what I wanted.”

On the team regressing or staying the same:
“We stayed the same, and we can’t afford to do that. We’re not in a position as a program to stay the same. Coaches and players alike really have to come out here with a plan to get better. I don’t think we got there today. I don’t think it was a resistance; the focus wasn’t there. I don’t fault the effort, it was the focus. The bottom line is, we have to be better than that.”

On how this team is 3-0 after last year:
“We’re playing better football. We have a little bit of a running game. We’ve got better protection. We’re not turning it over as much. Still, we can make huge improvements in all those areas. And we’re playing great defense and causing turnovers.”

On how last year’s team went 4-8:
“Last year’s team was hit by a lot of adversity. We lost two senior quarterbacks in spring ball, several offensive linemen before we even took the field. It was going to be hard. First quarter of first game, we lost three seniors for extended time. Kyle Bosworth in the second game. We had some adversity, and we grew from it, even though the record may not indicate.”

On the four suspended players working to earn their jobs back:
“Hopefully they feel some measure of responsibility that they left their team down and that they owe great effort to get their spots back.”

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Neuheisel On:

On Tuesday’s practice:
“Very happy with this practice. Two days off, usually you’re a little sluggish. It’s like pulling teeth to get kids to run around, and it was anything but today. Not all perfect, but certainly things we can work with. We’re excited as a program about where we are, and frankly, we’re hungry for more. We’ve just got to keep pinning down the details.”

On the goal of first bye-week practice:
“I told the kids today we had three things to get done, No. 1, to improve, we have to improve. No. 2, to create competition – make sure all positions have those kids who are not on the front lines working to become on the front line. No. 3, have some install, the ability to try things out.”

On the running back talent in the Pac-10:
“Everybody understands the value of a running game. Takes a lot of pressure off your quarterback, your defense, the play-caller. It’s a great weapon to be able to run the ball, you can control the ball. There are a number of quality backs in their conference, but that’s not unusual to me. That’s the nature of a very fertile West Coast area to recruit from.”

On re-opening up competition at certain positions:
“You have to get comfortable in competition. Is it good to be challenged in the fourth quarter? Sure, I’d love to win them all handily, but you’re going to get tested. Rather than react like something you’re not used to, you have to accept it. It brings out the best in all players.”

On competition when he played:
“I’ll never forget as a player here, Michael Young and Karl Dorrell battling every day to see who would be starting flanker, trying to bribe me as QB. You talk about two great players, because the competition of the other one was there.”

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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 inexperience:
“It doesn’t matter if Kevin’s out, we’re still going to be playing with a lot of inexperience on offense. We’ve got to continue to shore up our fundamentals. It was interesting to watch young players get into that environment. You watch film with them and they can’t tell you why that happened. It’s what they refer to as the fog of war.”

On being 10-point favorites against K-State:
“We were underdogs, and that motivated us, the same will be true about Kansas State coming here. It will motivate them. To ignore that and act as if they’re not going to come in here believing and working and excited about making their own statement, then we’re crazy. We have too much experience on our coaching staff to not nail that point home and demand that we improve. It didn’t matter what happened at Tennessee, we need to improve. We need to improve. That’s the entire focus of the week.”

On true freshman quarterbacks having immediate success:
“I kind of hypothesized as I was flying home. I’m noticing, there’s Matt Barkley playing well, and TF for Michigan. No. 1, there’s so much pressure on the quarterback position and gameplans are so predicated toward the starter, that backup quarterbacks if you’re not careful, if you don’t have it really strategized, don’t improve over the course of the season.”

On entering college early:
“The other thing that’s happening is you’ve got a lot of midyear transfers now. I think both of those players joined their teams in time for spring football, as did Richard Brehaut. Now you accelerate the development of a freshman; he’s been not only in the system and learned, but he’s also been indoctrinated into the team. Those kids being given that chance have already earned that. It’s not unheard of to blossom early.”

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