Let's pick up where we left off after the latest round of lovely news out of Westwood. One thing I didn't note in last night's post re. suspension of Ricky Marvray and Sean Sheller was that their suspensions stemmed from the same incident which led to the suspensions for Morrell Presley and Josh Smith. At least that is what we have heard via multiple friends we trust. So in essence, the four guys were suspended at the same time, except that Marvray and Sheller decided to appeal and lost.
Not sure if that will make anyone feel any better, but it is significant because it undercuts the notion that new issues came up following last week's disciplinary measures. Moreover, everyone should keep these suspensions in perspective. The fact here is that Rick Neuheisel is punishing UCLA players for infractions, that other programs don't really care too much about.
We saw the kind of "disciplinary measures" ("extra laps" around practice) were taken at the school over there where players under a celebrated cheater were getting arrested and accused of charges such soliciting hookers, assault with deadly weapons, sexual assaults, spousal battery, beating up students on campus, creating racist Facebook groups, and also getting accused of taking in hundreds of thousands in illegal benefits. So under the circumstances, it appears that Neuheisel is running a pretty strict program. The concern for us here is what is happening on the field.
As for what is happening on the field, Neuehisel is characteristically is trying his best to sound positive:
"I don't worry about so much the big picture right now," Neuheisel said. "We've got five little pictures left. We got to make sure we're as focused as acutely as we can be on each of them. We're in a position where we can't make many mistakes and live to tell about it."
He met the beat reporters yesterday for his weekly press conference where he talked about his coaches "working hard and diligently to fix" his team problems. As usual he put on an united front without throwing anyone under the bus:
Coach Neuheisel also heaped praise on our upcoming opponent (who deserve it). While it remains unclear who is going to be Arizona's QB, it is not going to matter as much, as both Nick Foles and Matt Scott are capable of leading a capable offense, which spreads an opponent out and operates on "high tempo." From the Daily News:
"He's more a running threat, but he was the starter to start the season a year ago, so obviously they think a lot of him," Neuheisel said. "Foles is a very, very good player, a sure NFL prospect, and I don't know if he'll be back or not, but the Scott kid is certainly very athletic, and as witnessed by his game against Washington - I think he was 18 for 22 -... obviously very active."
Making the chore more difficult - against either quarterback - is the loss of Patrick Larimore. The sophomore middle linebacker dislocated his left shoulder during the second series against Oregon in the Bruins' 60-13 loss Thursday, and with redshirt freshman Todd Golper still sidelined with back issues, the team is left with just junior Steve Sloan and freshman Jordan Zumwalt at the position.
And the OC Register:
"The Scott kid is very athletic," Neuheisel said. "We have to find ways to create pressure but in so doing you can't open up so many running lanes that all of sudden he picks it up and he' gone. Because he's obviously, athletic enough to make big plays with his legs. So you've got to pick your spots so to speak as to where you're going to come after him."
Neuheisel also praised Richard Brehaut by mentioning he took note of "good things" from the sophomore QB's performance while reviewing Oregon film:
Neuheisel thinks Brehaut is going to "get better" over time. I liked the question (I think it was asked by Tracy Pierson of Bruin Report Online) about whether the coaches will consider more roll outs to move the launch point (buying more time to throw). Neuheisel seemed open to it.
Interestingly he mentioned that the "protection issue" was not a function of QB being inexperienced and more due to "mixed assignments" at the OL. Imagine the issue is going to be paramount going up against a very good Arizona front-7 without starting LT (Micah Kia is going to step in for Sean Sheller with Cody Ward getting time in the rotation as well).
Honestly Neuheisel's comments are fine. However, the positive talk is not having a lot of traction with yours truly right now. Don't really need to hear about sun rising again. I just want to see a UCLA team that will play fundamentally sound football and will be put in position by its coaches (from all facets of the program) to succeed. It hasn't been happening in last three games. We are getting tired of the same chatter about needing to "fix" issues week after week. We wish him and our guys all the luck in finding a "way out of this" mess. He needs to get it done in next 5 games.