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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Neuheisel On: Pt. 1

Opening comments:
“Excited about beginning the season 2-0, excited about a lot of the good things that happened over the course of two weeks. Also excited about the challenge of fixing the things we need to fix. The Tennessee game was a great team effort in a tough place to play, and it was as advertised in terms of an arena.”

On the challenges this week:
“Kansas State coming in this week is a huge challenge for us. I know that there will be people saying that I’m just trying to motivate my team. But it is going to be a very, very important game for us. We have a lot of work to do. We’ve got to break in a new quarterback, at least from the standpoint of this season. Those are great challenges, and ones we are looking forward to.”

On his lack of changing expectations:
“I said before the Tennessee game, whether we win or lose, we have a lot to improve upon. We’d be crazy, absolutely crazy – certify us – if we think we can waltz through anything. We have too many young players, too many things that have to be pointed out and addressed.”

On what he expects from the Wildcats:
“Maybe like Tennessee, they haven’t used their whole package yet, and we were exposed a little bit in our protections and people are going to copy that stuff. Coaching is a very plagiaristic business. There’s going to be a lot of copying the game plan.”

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Neuheisel On:

Here’s what Rick Neuheisel said after Sunday’s conference call with LA reporters…

On the risky call to go for a pass on 3rd-and-9 that culminated in a safety and Prince’s injury:
“They were out of timeouts so if you make a first down, the game’s over. The risk was, ‘Kevin, you’re not throwing this ball unless a guy is wide open, you’re not going to fumble, and if you can’t (find anything), I understand and we’ll punt and take the 30 yards of field position.
“Had you told me I was going to lose my QB, I think I would’ve gone with your QB sneak.”

On choosing between Craft and Brehaut
“(Offensive coordinator Norm Chow) and I will talk and watch practice and go from there. You’ve got an experienced player in Kevin Craft who has played a lot of football. You’ve got a kid who played pretty well in a brief stint against SDSU. We have a lot of confidence in Richard Brehaut – he was a big-time recruit and he’s proven he belongs at this level. He didn’t look nervous (against SDSU), he went out and he played well. And I’ve seen enough good things from Kevin Craft to know we can go out and play fine.”

On whether UCLA can move forward with Kevin Craft as quarterback, after a disappointing 2008:
“This is a different edition of UCLA football. We’re going to weather it. We weathered the Aaron Hester injury a week ago. I think these guys are resilient.”

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