Just finished up my print story so the next couple hours will be devoted to you guys. A lively practice concluded with a little skirmish between Reggie Carter and Stanley Hasiak, but it quickly dissipated.
I chatted with Rick Neuheisel, Bob Palcic, Logan Paulsen, Jeff Baca and Carter.
Stay tuned, and thanks.
On Christian Ramirez’s injury:
“Ankles are iffy things, especially when they get into that definition of high ankle. Those things take a little longer to heal.”
On Saturday’s scrimmage:
“As is always the case when you watch a game tape, it’s never quite as good as you thought it was and it’s not as bad. Kevin Prince, I went home thinking inconsistent and a long way to go, and I watched the tape and it wasn’t nearly that case. I saw a lot of good things. He was unfortunate a couple times, a couple balls he wished he could have back.”
On Damien Thigpen’s chances of playing this season, rather than redshirting:
“I’m leaning toward using him. He’s an impact player. (We’ll use him) any way we can use him.”
Quote of the Day, on Micah Kia’s injury:
“Tough times don’t last, but tough people do. I expect him to be helpful with Bob in terms of helping young players as sort of a student-coach. Both Kyle Bosworth and Logan Paulsen had similar circumstances a year ago, and here they are excited about this. It seems like a million miles away, but is actually right around the corner.”
On what he hopes to see on Saturday:
“The same thing every coach in the country hopes for – great adherence to the fundamentals you’ve been teaching and then no injuries. Maybe not in that order.”
On the commitment to the running game this season:
“I’ve noticed the attitude in it – there’s no question the attitude’s been there – but consistency still needs to be progressed. We’re not there yet. But coaches and players alike are committed to the idea that we’re going to do that. We just have got to continue pounding the meat, as Rocky would say.”
Rick Neuheisel, on the offensive line inefficiencies from last season:
“They just were inexperienced and they weren’t physical enough. Given the great work in the offseason to increase our strength numbers and given some competition created by the arrival of newcomers, I think we’re gonna have a chance to be a better front. And we need to be if we’re going to be better on offense.”
Norm Chow, on Christian Ramirez’ chance to be a dual-threat back:
“He’s a good pass catcher, so we have to make sure where we get some matchups where we can magnify his skills. We’ve known all along. He practiced all year long with us and you could just tell he was a good pass catcher. And a coach has the responsibility to try and magnify the skills of the players we have.”
Freshman wideout Randall Carroll (Cathedral High) has been one of the guys to watch during the first two days. His speed had Coach Rick Neuheisel talking, but it’s his hands that has Carroll talking.
“I’m running a lot more simple routes, routes that Terrence Austin and everybody else get to run,” Carroll said. “Not just the deep ball. Me out here showing my hands, it’s proving I can do it out on the field.”
Carroll’s speed has been well-documented: He was ranked as the No. 4 athlete by Rivals.com and was on several top-100 lists.
Along with fellow incoming freshman Ricky Marvray (Centennial High), UCLA has a pair of speedy newcomers…
On UCLA’s defense heading into the preseason.
“Defensively, I think we’re on track. It’s about continuing to run well and getting the kids who are going to be newcomers to it – guys like Aaron Hester – to get into it.”
On UCLA’s difficult schedule:
“I don’t know if you can ever look and say it’s going to be an easy schedule at UCLA. We play nine Pac-10 games. That in itself is more difficult than what anyone else does. And to go to Tennessee is not what you’d draw up if you’re trying to get yourself into the post season.”
On how he’s changed since last year:
“I’m every bit as upbeat, every bit as positive, but I know much more about what needs to be done, having now taken a lap through the conference. You only have yourself to compare against after you’ve gone through spring practice. Having gone through a season and seen all the programs, I’ve got a good idea of where we stack up.”
I’m heading to practice around 2 p.m. so I can try to pick up on anything out there. Things will really pick up around 5 this afternoon if you want to check back then.
Over the next hour or so, I’ll post some extra quotes from yesterday by UCLA’s top mouthpieces: Rick Neuheisel, Kevin Prince and Christian Ramirez.
Thanks for reading, folks.
Also, just checking before I do this, but would anyone enjoy some good YouTube clips of all things Blue and Gold?
Practice is wrapping up, but I’ll be bringing you some player comments shortly.
Things were pretty breezy out there, but a couple players raised some eyebrows, including a freshman whom I spoke with. Players mentioned that the practice definitely took on a serious tone as the day wore on, with coach Rick Neuheisel staying on top of guys.
Stay tuned for one-on-one quotes, including Logan Paulsen, Alterraun Verner and Kevin Prince.
Coach Neuheisel revealed a powder blue throwback jersey that the Bruins will wear in their Nov. 7 matchup with Washington.
The jersey is a throwback to the 1967 uniform worn by Heisman Trophy winner Gary Beban. Beban led UCLA to a 7-2-1 record at quarterback and, according to a UCLA press release, will serve as honorary Homecoming captain.
Several players, including Reggie Carter, wore the throwback jerseys at Media Day.
On his offseason:
“I’m up to 220 now, the heaviest I’ve ever been; it’s all muscle,” Ramirez said laughing. “I still kept my speed, though, which is what (UCLA head athletic performance coach Mike Linn) was preaching to me. We needed to get me bigger, faster and stronger but keep that speed.”
On what hurt the offense the most last season:
“Turn…overs – that’s all I have to say,” Ramirez said. “We had 20 interceptions, and that hurt. If we start off just taking care of the ball, everything should fall into place. We have a lot of talent on this team, we’ve gained experience, and we learned a difficult lesson – if you don’t have the ball, you can’t win.”
On Neuheisel and his change from year one to year two:
“He’s still there,” Ramirez said. “Coach Neuheisel is still in there. He’s a very optimistic guy, and unfortunately we weren’t able to pull through his expectations. We haven’t lowered them. We still want to be a championship team. That’s what we fought for this whole summer. We don’t expect anything less than he’s told you guys.”