Lots of news and notes to get from Coach Rick Neuheisel and Rahim Moore's appearance at yesterday's Pac-10 Media Day at the Rose Bowl. It wasn't much of a surprise when the Pac-10 writers picked UCLA to finish 8th in the conference this season. While we certainly hope the team and the players are going to use that kind of a prediction as yet another source of motivation heading into camp, we can't really complain too much about it.
Although our team took a step towards the right direction by getting into and winning a bowl game this past season, we still finished 8th in the conference. The year before we also finished 8th as well. Sure we have confidence in what Rick Neuheisel is doing in Westwood. It is more than apparent now that someone like Norm Chow has the same level of confidence in CRN. Still heading into his 3rd season in Westwood, Bruins need to continue to prove themselves on the field, by building on the successes from our bowl winning season.
Coach Neuheisel to no one's surprises projected optimism and confidence yesterday:
"This is an exciting time of year," Neuheisel said. "We have a very challenging schedule. We have made strides over the past couple of years to earn the right to be talked about as a great team in all facets, from recruiting, to the sweat equity Rahim and his teammates have given.
"We are developing a culture that will carry us through those tough times when games are close. ... We are looking to keep the momentum going of UCLA football going until we are playing in this great stadium in January."
Last year he specifically set his goal about getting into a bowl game. This year his mark of success is more open ended focused on keeping "the momentum" "going" through his third season in Westwood:
Neuheisel on his 2010 goal: "Be better than we were last year. I want the momentum to keep going. (We were) 4-8 in year one, certainly not what I expected. We endured it, tried to learn through it. Last year we went through a miserable month of October. Found a way to right the ship, got to a bowl game and won it. All those things led to a real great work ethic, an excitement about going forth. For the first I've been at UCLA, we're an experienced football team. We've got players like Rahim and Kevin Prince at quarterback, Akeem Ayers, guys who have played and played at a high level."
You can watch CRN's opening statement here. The official site also has videos and photo gallery here. More including videos featuring CRN and Rahim Moore (who gave pretty awesome interviews) after the jump.
Jon Gold caught up with CRN after the initial press conference. Their conversation is worth watching because it is interesting to hear CRN's response to the question about how he feels about being picked 8th in the conference:
CRN makes it very clear that the Bruins have to "show" it on the field given the conference record from last two seasons. It perfectly jives with number of our off-season discussions during which we talked about a good season for the Bruins this year would shape up in the form of a winning record in the conference. It is not going to be easy. However, the Bruins will have to take that extra step and get wins in some really tough conference games. They have been close last couple of seasons in games against Oregon (last two years), Oregon State (2009) and Stanford (2009). They will have to come through with wins in close games this year specially the ones taking place at the Rose bowl.
CRN also indicated that he is open to red-shirting Richard Brehaut this year:
"A lot of that will depend on what role Darius Bell has and where Nick Crissman is," Neuheisel said. [...]
"Part of me would like to save Brehaut's year and create a different year," Neuheisel said. "But part of me says, 'You know what, you've got to be ready for a second guy to be ready to play.'"
Again, that is consistent with what we laid out in our QB analysis yesterday. So let's all hope or a healthy year from Kevin Prince and steady development for both Crissman and Bell, making them ready to step up in game situations.
Per CRN Brehaut "just wants to keep playing and keep getting better" and "just wants to keep competing." We can all respect that. However, if the Bruin QBs can stay healthy and Crissman/Bell can be ready, it would be a boon for both Brehaut and UCLA if he could save an extra year, positioning himself as one of the frontrunners to take over for Kevin Prince.
Meanwhile, Rahim Moore represented the players yesterday and he didn't disappoint. He talked about Cheetos. Yes, yes he did. WATCH:
He is a funny man. On a more serious note, Rahim talked about "maturation" of Kevin Prince (how he is checking off his first receiver during practices). He also had a very interesting comment on Anthony Barr:
If I heard Moore correctly, he identified Barr as a TE. Wonder if that is a wrinkle we are not aware of or is it just a matter of Barr playing TE during summer 7-on-7 drills. Moore also raving about the field awareness of Jordan Zumwalt (which is a good sign because the kid is supposed to be our future MLB, which is essentially the brain position of the entire defense).
This kid is something special. He exudes passion for those four letters the same way AA did back in the day. You can just feel his fire and competitive edge from talking to him. I can only imagine how his team-mates are going to respond to him now that he is position to be one of the unquestionable leaders of this program.
I didn't think I could be any more excited about the arrival of football season. I was wrong. Watching Rahim got me even more fired up.