Today is another Football Friday. The Bruins are getting ready for their second game of this season, and their first contest at the Rose Bowl. After the frustration by Coach Neuheisel of how Wednesday's practice ended, reports stated that Thursday saw more focus and a higher energy from the team. While the session did not produce much new news, the quarterbacking situation for Saturday did look clearer at the end of the afternoon.
After practice, Neu told the assembled media that Richard Brehaut would likely be the starter tomorrow, but that he planned on Kevin Prince seeing some action as well. As Peter Yoon noted in his practice report for ESPNLA, Prince's injured shoulder was sore after practice on Wednesday, and went on to throw a reduced number of passes with the second team (he ran a few plays with the first team, but attempted only 1 pass) yesterday. Apparently, the reduced throwing is just a precaution.
"Kevin is fine," Neuheisel said. "He rested it but he could have ripped it around today. We're just giving it another 24 hours and he’ll throw a bit tomorrow and be ready to go on Saturday."
Earlier in the week, Neuheisel said that while both of the prime QB's would see game action against San Jose St, the choice of starter would come down to how much throwing Prince would be able to do in practice through the week. Given that Kevin did not participate on Tuesday, threw a reduced number of passes - and not with the starters - on Thursday, and is expected to 'throw a bit' today, In his ESPN.com chat yesterday, Yoon added that as of Wednesday's practice, Prince had not been able to throw at full strength. Given the combination of factors, it would appear that Brehaut will be the first one to line up under center, whether or not Prince is able to play.
Jon Gold noted that the offensive line had a good practice, and that Jeff Baca should be back on the field tomorrow night. Jeff's twitter looks to support that, and Peter Yoon has an interview with him here. In injury news, Damien Thigpen and Jamie Graham remain out of practice, with no timetable for their return.
While talking about short-term quarterbacking matters after practice, Coach Neuheisel also confirmed that Kip Smith is and will be the Bruins placekicker. To be accurate, the newfound certainty on the staff's part is not so much from improvement in Kip's kicking, but the realization that none of the alternatives would be better; Joe Roberts is recovering from a leg injury, while Jeff Locke was not impressive at the job, and raised the concern in Coach Neuheisel that taking over placekicking duties could lessen his effectiveness in punting and kicking off. With this said, Kip has made changes in his kicking mechanics and is working on improving his consistency, with some success - making several kicks in practice, but missing a 40-yard attempt during the 2-minute drill at the end of practice. While Kip has struggled over the past several weeks, let's keep in mind these words from Rick.
The end of Wednesday's practice - and Coach Neuheisel's accompanying outburst - got plenty of folks attention. It seemed at the time a reaction to a sloppy series of plays by the offense in the drill closing out that afternoon's practice, a though supported by his later explanations to the media. As Gold noted in his report:
"Kip has worked hard," Neuheisel said. "He's a very talented young man and has to trust that we have confidence in him. And trust himself."
Rick Neuheisel, interestingly, came out and told reporters that in hindsight, his frustration might have been a little misplaced. ..., but that his ire was with the small mistakes and missteps.
Peter Yoon's post elaborated on Neuheisel's discussion of his momentary frustration.
"I was just frustrated with some offside penalties at the end of practice," he said. "As I watched tape, the team was actually playing very well."
... "I might have been the one that was most frustrated rather than them," he said, later adding that "it’s important that they know that we as coaches are only trying to pull the very best out of them. And believe wholeheartedly in their abilities and their character and believe that this can be a terrific season regardless of how things went in game one."
The Bruins practice again today, before taking the Rose Bowl field tomorrow at 7pm. Don't forget to vote for Bruins Nation as the most valuable sports blog of LA.