Up close and personal with Rick Neuheisel.
Rick Neuheisel opened this week's press conference with an awesome sweater. I've always been a fan of Rick's sweater vests, but the sweater he wore today had an embroidered UCLA helmet - if they sold that at the UCLA Store, I'd pick up a few for the men in my life - my dad proudly wears everything that his UCLA daughters (yes, there's two of us) gets him from the store.
Injury wise, UCLA escaped the ASU game relatively injury free. Richard Brehaut has been upgraded to 50-50 and Dietrich Riley is still out. Brehaut will be back in a limited capacity but he will probably not be involved in team activities on Tuesday. Riley will be seeing a doctor this week regarding his injury, but the long term prognosis is positive. Aaron Hester has been reprimanded by the Pac-12 for comments he made after the game.
As for the actual press conference, which you can watch here, here are the highlights:
Neuheisel is looking forward to the contest this weekend in Salt Lake.
"They are a talented and opportunistic team. They are fundamentally sound, they understand field position, they take advantage of turnovers and they are very well coached... The last UCLA team to go there didn't fare well and it's a huge challenge for us... If we focus like we focused the last two weeks and we'll have a great chance. I'm excited about earning the right to be in another big game."
When asked about the two fumbles in Saturday's game:
"It was great that our defense didn't allow it turn into points... in both instances or defense got them off the field in three and out and that's a huge, huge thing when you're talking about the emotional pulse of your team to weather the sudden change, to go in there and make those plays, and allow the opposition to not score, that's strong."
Neuheisel still has faith in Jonathan Franklin:
"If the question is if I trust Jonathan Franklin, the answer is unequivocally yes. I think he's a terrific player, a terrific team player, and he wants nothing more for us but to continue to be successful. He will work hard this week to correct the problem that occurred last week."
Of course, the press conference turned to Norm Chow, current offensive coordinator for Utah.
When asked if Neuheisel and Chow will talk leading up to game day:
"I don't know if we'll talk during the day week, but I hope to see him game day... I enjoyed my time with Norm, enjoyed getting to know his family. I'm happy they're having some success. I would like it to stall for one particular day and wish them well the rest of the time."
When asked about going back down "memory lane" that'swill be rehashed this week in the media, Neuheisel mentioned that he doesn't read the papers and doesn't know what has been said about him and Norm.
"I learned from him, whether if he learned from me you'll have to ask him. I don't think the reason we didn't have as much as success was at all because of a rift between Norm and I. He may have a separate opinion but I don't think that was the case. I think there it was a case of too many injuries to sustain any level of consistency, whether it be at the quarter back position or at the offensive line because of protection issues and we were always trying to put a band aid on it... Norm's resume speaks for itself with respect to his ability to coach."
When asked if Neuheisel was able to "raise" a quarterback the way he wanted to...
"I gave Norm his space. You don't want to confuse a guy because of the language he's hearing... I wasn't perfect at that, because sometimes I say what i think, but I worked hard at trying to giving the quarterback room. As things started to go in different directions I yearned to have that responsibility again and I'm excited to have it now."
Don't worry though, Chow and Neuheisel are still friends:
"We spoke once this season, he called after the BYU game which was a huge success for them and said he used one of the concepts I had given to him... they used it and they scored a few times with it, and he called to say thank you and I thought it was a great phone call. It was great at that time to realize that our friendship was more than just because we shared office space."
Also, as to the "rules of the game" when you leave one place and go to another:
"Norm brought his playbook to UCLA and he takes it with him, but it stays behind also because we have the all the film from the years he was here. We can go back and look at all the great Norm Chow offense over the years ... but really we want to look at Utah film and what they've done... It's the ultimate game of rock,scissors, paper."
If you want to win a game of rock, paper, scissors, I highly recommend picking Spock.
By the way, we once again may have a quarterback conundrum:
"We will determine that plan when and IF (ed. note: emphasis mine) he's ready to play. The nice thing is we have two quarterbacks that are capable of helping us win."
I can't wait for the quarterback carousel to start up again. (In case you didn't notice the sarcasm... sarcasm.)