The Bruins were back on the turf of Spaulding Field yesterday, in one of the team's three bye-week practices. The media focus today is mainly on Brett Hundley's first week as the #2 Quarterback in Westwood. With specific preparation and installation of the Arizona game plan not beginning until Sunday, this week was designed in part to provide Brett with a sort of training camp, to help make up for the summer sessions that he missed while recovering from knee surgery. His reps have been a mixed bag so far, as can be expected from a true freshman with limited practice under his belt. Peter Yoon got a couple of quotes from Coach Neuheisel on Hundley's practice, starting with a note on his locking onto the primary receiver on pass plays.
... Neuheisel said that's normal for freshmen. "I think all young quarterbacks do," Neuheisel said. "You have an idea of what a pass play is supposed to look like and you go to where it normally goes. When that breaks down, the question is how quickly do you move on? But everybody starts that way. But I think he’s moving quickly through that. Is he ready to do that with everything we have in our offense? I don’t think so, but still I’m pleased with his progress."
I know, I know. The idea of UCLA throwing the ball is a shocking thought. Brett also has some work to do in taking care of the ball when running or escaping pressure, with Neu taking a lesson from one of my all-time favorite movies in attempting to teach Hundley to tuck the ball in when scrambling.
For the second consecutive day, Neuheisel made Hundley do pushups because he didn't have the ball tucked close to his body when scrambling away from pressure. "I just want him to understand that he’s playing at a different level and there are going to be strong guys trying to grab that ball and it’s important that he secure it," Neuheisel said.
The Quarterback running the ball is a key part of the current UCLA offense, of course. But with the injury to Richard Brehaut, together with the fragility of Kevin Prince and Hundley's inexperience, the coaching staff is looking at ways to balance the need of a running threat at that position with that of protecting the health of the guys behind center.
"We need his legs in the offense," Neuheisel said. "It helps make everything else go because he’s viable threat. Now, how much we do it remains a question because the more we do it the more he’s at risk so it’s a great question and one we’re going to have to work on to decide what is the right balance."
Dan Guerrero made an appearance on the Mason and Ireland radio show yesterday afternoon. Early on in the interview, he was asked about Coach Neuheisel's status, and any criteria that he has for his continuation as head coach. His answer was short on specifics, but to say that Neuheisel has yet to meet the standards expected at UCLA.
"In intercollegiate athletics, we’re pretty much all day-to-day. That’s the reality of our situation. But I said from the very beginning, the key for our program this year was to move the needle, was to obviously improve upon a four-win season (from) last year. We’re certainly not where we want to be as a program, there’s no question about that. We’re certainly not a top-25 team. We’re not there yet.
Guerrero was then asked if UCLA, which is 3-3, had to earn bowl eligibility for Neuheisel to remain the coach.
"I’m not going to be definitive about anything, but I would say that if we didn’t get into a bowl this year, everyone would be very disappointed."
Guererro also talked about the Pauley renovation, Brett Hundley and his new "blog". Just don't tell Garlic Joe about the competition.
In injury news, Albert Cid did not dress on Wednesday, a day after he left practice with shortness of breath. Shaq Evans (concussion symptoms) and Nelson Rosario (sprained foot) missed practice, while Juston Edison has completed the Concussion Protocol and is able to fully participate in practice. Chris Ward was back practicing at full speed, with the first and second team offenses. Glenn Love participated in practice drills, a good sign for his return next Thursday night. Sheldon Price had a light workout on the field during practice, but is not yet ready for team drills.
Given the bye week, followed by a Thursday night game, the practice schedule for the upcoming week-plus is altered from the norm. The Bruins will practice today, and take Friday and Saturday off before beginning game preparation on Sunday. The coaching staff will be spending the weekend down time recruiting throughout the southland.
To cap things off, Peter Yoon spoke with Tyler Gonzalez after practice, with video of Tyler's description of how he went from Soccer team manager to kicking in the Rose Bowl linked here. While Jon Gold spoke with Brett Hundley after Tuesday's practice.