After returning home from Houston the Bruins had the holiday off from practice, but Coach Neuheisel was not excused from his Monday afternoon date with the media. He took the opportunity to talk a little bit about the last game and the key injuries that occurred, and a few other notes heading into the game against San Jose State.
ESPNLA is reporting Coach Neuheisel having said that Kevin Prince has a "better than a 50-50 chance" to be available to play against San Jose State on Saturday. In the presser, Neu stated that Kevin's concussion has cleared and that an MRI showed no structural damage to the shoulder that was injured on Saturday. While he will presumably be subjected to the standard Concussion regimen, the main factor in determining when Prince will be able to return to practice is comfort - when the pain in the sprained shoulder has subsided enough for him to throw passes and actually participate in practice. In terms of his ability to play on Saturday night, Kevin needs to practice enough during this week in order to start - how much practice is 'enough' was not elaborated upon by Coach Neuheisel, but it seems that regardless of who starts, both QB's will again be expected to play a role against SJSU.
If he's available and hasn't practiced much, then I would say we'd start Richard but we'd play Kevin," Neuheisel said. "Richard played really well. But so was Kevin playing well until the injury. I don't see any reason not to keep them both in the mix should they both be healthy."
Also on the injury front, there is a growing chance that Glenn Love may be able to play on Saturday. After suffering a separated shoulder against Houston, he was expected to miss up to 2 weeks, but the injury is looking to be less severe as originally thought and Coach Neuheisel now considers him Questionable for Saturday.. Glenn was set to be reexamined either last night or sometime today, in part to see whether the injured shoulder could be harnessed, better allowing him to play through the injury.Later in the presser, Coach Neuheisel talked about Kip Smith and the state of the Bruin placekicking situation. He mentioned that the competition is ongoing, and that he hopes that Kip will be able to win that battle and take ownership of the placekicking role. One question that comes to mind is whether it is better to take this pressure off of Kip and simply tell him to go out there and kick without looking over his shoulder, or if keeping up the pressure with Jeff Locke in practice is the more beneficial motivational strategy. Unless Neu really is open to having Jeff Locke take all of the kicking duties - and the added work that entails, I don't know if it might just be better to give Kip the job and take off the pressure.
Bruce Feldman was not too impressed with the Pac-12 in its inaugural week. While Oregon got the brunt of his criticism, the Bruins defense was also up for critique; while acknowledging that Case Keenum and the Houston Offense is legit, he thought that the unit was simply overmatched, along with the all-too familiar lack of tackling.
UCLA didn't do anything to help Rick Neuheisel's hot-seat status by losing at Conference-USA Houston 38-34. I think the Cougars are really underrated by a lot of folks coming into this season. They have the great Case Keenum back and a terrific group of skill guys. I could see them going 12-0. Still, the Bruins defense, which is expected to be the team strength, looked overmatched, especially early, and UCLA couldn't recover. New defensive coordinator Joe Tresey won't face many QBs anywhere near as good as Keenum -- well, except for Andrew Luck. His team had all sorts of problems tackling. The Bruins need to get things sorted out fast or they could be starting at a 1-4 start, with only next week's game against San Jose State seeming like a solid W.
In light of the poor tackling, Coach Neuheisel stated during the presser that tackling will be a major point of emphasis during this week's practices. But with Houston out of the way, the Bruins now get to look forward to a couple of games at home while they wait for both classes and the Pac-12 season to begin, starting with UCLA's first ever game against San Jose State University. Kickoff is set for 7pm on Saturday, with the telecast carried by Fox Sports with Bill Macdonald and JJ Stokes in the booth.