My original instinct was to title this post with one of my favorite FJM-isms, but this being a family blog, decided to go with the G-rated version. As always, Coach Neuheisel met with the media on Monday while the team took the day off from practice. Unsurprisingly, the team has not progressed as far along he had hoped since the end of fall camp. While there is plenty of weaknesses that can be pointed out after 3 weeks, Neuheisel stressed a few in particular: On defense, Stopping the run and allowing opponents to convert too many 3rd downs; and on offense failing to convert 3rd downs and Inconsistency in the passing game. A little funny to hear about the passing concerns given Neu's treatment of Richard Brehaut and the recent play of Kevin Prince, though there is definitely work to be done with the receivers. Though as Peter Yoon shared this morning, the Bruins problems are not just limited to those issues.
"It's not any one thing, we've just got to be more consistent," coach Rick Neuheisel said. "Those are the things that have plagued us and so that'll have to get better and get better fast as we head into the meat of our schedule against a very, very difficult Pac-12 conference."
After the Texas game, Neu told the media that the team does practice tackling, just not with live bodies apparently, while Cassius Marsh mentioned that he did not think the team was practicing tackling well enough, and that the team needs to tackle in practice in order to know how to do so in games. In light of this, and the seeming lack of tackling fundamentals on display in the prior two games, Neu did tell the media that he will put a greater emphasis on tackling from here on out, and will consider implementing live tackling in practice. He is not yet sure how he will implement this change - whether through drill work or through actually tackling in practice - and will wait until he can work it out with the other coaches. While answering a follow-up question, Neu mentioned that he had not previously implemented live tackling during the season; that live tackling is something that is normally done during spring ball and in training camp, rather than during the season. This might have been a good thing for Neuheisel to have thought of during spring ball and training camp.
Brett Hundley was also a subject of discussion during the presser. As has been mentioned here and on other Bruin online communities this week, there is a growing sense that Neu is looking to play him this season, burning his redshirt year. The goal for Brett is to have him practicing during the week like he may be playing, but that right now he is not ready to run the offense. Neuheisel said that he wants to be prudent in determining whether Hundley's redshirt is burned; the time missed during the summer did put Brett in a hole as far as working with the offense, and if he does not develop
As BleuReign brought up in a fanshot last night, the depth chart for Oregon State has been released. Today's general Oregon State week press release has the updated depth chart, reflecting that Richard Brehaut is the unquestioned starter this week. Unfortunately given how the team has started off the year, there is not much else changed about the starters. Aside from Brehaut taking the reins, the only other change among the starters this week is reflected in the O-line changes necessitated by Sean Sheller's injury - after last week's promotion of Shaq Evans to Taylor Embree's former spot. Neu mentioned the role of competition and the fear of losing a starting spot as motivation for his players to produce and play properly, but the defensive depth chart is yet to bear that out, with no changes from last week and a lot of consistency from week 1 to the present for a unit that has underachieved so greatly to date.
Andrew Abbott's recovery from the concussion he suffered on Satruday is progressing, though it is unknown when he will return to practice or if he will be able to play this week. If he is unable to play against Oregon State, Neu raised the possibility of moving someone over from Safety to backup Sheldon Price. Jamie Graham is likely to return to practice today, though is still listed as injured on the depth chart. Kip Smith's availability for Oregon State is still up in the air; Jeff Locke will continue to placekick in Kip's absence, but will step down once Kip is able to return to action. Sean Sheller is scheduled to undergo surgery to repair his broken arm today, and will miss the remainder of the season. Given that he has already taken 2 injury redshirt years, I think it is safe to say that his career at UCLA is finished, and good luck to Sean in his future endeavors.
The eligibility of Brandon Willis is still a question mark: UCLA is waiting to receive documentation from UNC in order to complete its petition to allow Willis to play for UCLA this season.Looks lie it may be a while until we have a final decision on his eligibility for this season.