UCLA got after it on Tuesday morning, with Rick Neuheisel unafraid to get in his players’ faces. There was much 7-on-7 work as the Bruins try to absorb the schemes thrown at them, but there was also plenty of scrimmage.
I spoke with Neuheisel, Kevin Prince, Brian Price, Korey Bosworth and Norm Chow, and I’ll have that in a moment. Stay tuned.
In Monday’s weekly press conference, Rick Neuheisel said Kevin Craft would be the first one to go in if Kevin Prince went down heading into Week 1.
On his thoughts, post-scrimmage:
“It was a good scrimmage; when you get to play 60 plays and you’re eight days away from a game, and you get to thud with tired legs, it is good. I saw what I needed to see. I think the guys realized we’re not game-ready yet. I think that’s a call to arms over the weekend while they get a little rest.
“I like where we are.”
On what he wanted to see from the scrimmage:
“With so many young players, it’s about how to go inside and come back out and be ready to play. Again, we started slow as an offense. We have to learn that you don’t get a feel-out practice in games. Guys now have more of an understanding.”
On the running the first-team offense against the second-team defense and vice versa:
“We tried to get some looks we may see. It was some portion of game planning. We didn’t want our first defense not running their defense.”
On Damien Thigpen and Morrell Presley impressing him the most:
“He’s proved he’s an exciting football player. We’ll find ways to get him into the game plan. And Morrell Presley did some good things.”
On Kevin Prince’s performance:
“There were a couple balls I think he could’ve let go if. His anticipation skills I still thing can grow. But I thought he managed the game well. I was disappointed that he tried to force that screen and had that turnover.”
On Thursday’s practice:
“Obviously there is a lot to get in when you’re getting ready for a game. Dress rehearsals and so forth. You’ve got all sorts of situations to cover, especially with such a young team. (Practice) took longer than maybe I wanted, especially in this heat. It’[s stuff you got to do, and I’m glad we got it done.”
On how much of San Diego State’s game plan is installed:
“Less than 50 percent. I don’t think you put things in too early, it gets stale. But we’ll be ready, and the kids will be excited and we’ll execute it well.”
On Randall Carroll and Ricky Marvray:
“They’ve been terrific. They’ve worked hard. This is a huge culture change, from high school to college. To mature as fast as we’re asking them to do is not an easy thing to accomplish. They’re buying in, they’re asking the right questions, and there energy level is great.”
The players were indeed thankful for the reprieve from full gear, as it was sweltering. Rick Neuheisel had sympathy for his guys, particularly as practice went long by almost a half hour.
However, with the season opener only nine days away, UCLA understands it needs as much preparation as it can get.
I spoke with Norm Chow, Rick Neuheisel, Jeff Baca, Johnathan Franklin and a special guest. Stay tuned.
Rick Neuheisel knows a thing or two about the quarterback position.
He wants Kevin Prince to know a lot more than a thing or two.
“Kevin has done a great job, I just want him to be more urgent about learning what defenses do,” Neuheisel said. “So that he’s ahead of them, other than trying to catch up as the ball is snapped. You can’t play that way. It’s just him really studying it.”
On the tempo of practice:
“Especially I thought the kids worked really hard given the heat. I’m not sure what the heat is on this turf right now, but it’s warm. For the guys to work as hard as they did is encouraging. We will push forward and gear up toward Friday’s scrimmage at the Rose Bowl and see if we can’t put some nails in the depth chart at that point.”
On having a tailback-by-committee situation:
I think tailback by himself is more the exception than anything else. It’s just a hardposition to go out there and play every snap. Most teams have two, and a lot have three. We have a lot of guys who are capable of going in there and doing good things. It’s like putting another pitcher in there; it’s a changeup.
ESPN’s Ted Miller wrote about USC’s dominance in the Pac-10, and he went to Rick Neuheisel first.
Fall of Troy will take a nine-team effort
After another impressive practice performance by Jerry Johnson, Rick Neuheisel said he’s at least worked his way into the rotation.
“Jerry Johnson has had a nice camp, he’s been a much more efficient pass-catcher; he’s made plays almost daily,” Neuheisel said. “He just has to prove he knows what he’s doing. We just had a bust there at the end where he forgot he was in the two-receiver slot. But I think he’s working through the rotation.”
On the coaches job during tough practices:
“You’ve got to keep pushing, you’ve got to keep on them. I want the coaching staff to understand that’s what we’re doing here. We will reap the benefits when we start to freshen them up, which will be our job over the weekend. I like where we are, I like how we’re fighting, scratching and clawing. But we have to push through these tougher days as we go forward.”
On Jeff Locke’s availability if Kai Forbath went down:
“It’s a nice insurance policy, but Kai Forbath is one of the best in the country. We would miss Kai.”
On how UCLA is preparing for SDSU, particularly the Aztec coordinators’ experience with UCLA:
“You’re basically going on things of the past. It’s a little bit of an educated guess. We’ve gone back that far, absolutely. They may wax nostalgic being back in the Rose Bowl.”