Neuheisel Sunday Conference Call

Coach Rick Neuheisel talked about the status of quarterback Richard Brehaut's concussion, the morale of the team after the Washington loss, and now going to Tempe to face Arizona State...

Well, what's Richard's status?

‘'He's fine. He's been asymptomatic now for a couple days and I would expect that he will be available.''

Has he had to go through the concussion protocol?

‘'Yeah, he's going through it as we speak. We had kind of a mini walk-through practice today, so he started that protocol today. But the good news is he's got no headaches and he's had no symptoms since actually Saturday, so Saturday and Sunday with no symptoms, so they feel optimistic.''

When you say he'll be ready, you're talking about practice?

‘'Yeah, he'll be ready for practice and hopefully he'll be ready for the game.''

That type of hit has been a big topic of discussion in the NFL and even at the college level. Would you like to see something more than a 15-yard penalty with something like that?

‘'Well, you know, there are all sorts of degrees to these things. There were a couple of hits in the game that could have been construed as helmet-to-helmet and I've always sided on the fact that, you know, a guy that is flying at full speed, it's hard to hit anything you're aiming at let alone something at the top of the shoulders. So, I don't want to over-react. But in this case, Richard was sliding, you know, and to go down with your helmet in that situation, that seems to me like a place where you could make it a little more severe.''

Have you talked to the league about it at all?

‘'Well, it's been a topic of huge discussion now. I mean, they told us that they were going to take this up a notch, the officials did. It's a little surprising.''

Adding penalties, is that taking it up a notch, where they're getting the 15 yards?

‘'Right …''

Taking it up a notch, post game, is that like a suspension or something like that?

‘'I don't know. I'd have to think more about it. I mean, obviously, it was a big play in the game and I don't think anyone would ever coach somebody to do that, but 15 yards is a small price to pay.''

Have you talked to the league office about it?

‘'No. I was recruiting on Friday and Saturday and Sunday they're not in the office. But I'm going to call the league office on Monday. I've got a couple thoughts on the game not to be shared with you guys, but a couple of thoughts.''

Given the quarterback situation, are you going to be a little reluctant now to have Richard run the ball in this offense?

‘'Well, I don't that that we can … I mean, we have to dance with who we brung, right? This is our offense, so we've got to play and we have to keep our fingers crossed that we can keep everybody healthy, not just Richard.''

But Richard, nothing disparaging about the backup guys, but they didn't seem very ready …

‘'Neither one had ever played. There are all sorts of stages of ready. But for your first snap, that's not optimum.''

No, but with what you have to accomplish in two games, while you want to keep everyone healthy, Richard would seem …

‘'No, we're going to work hard to keep him healthy. There's no question.''

Does that limit at all what you can do with him?


So, not much you can do, really …

‘'Well, you're at risk any time you go out there and play. I mean, if you're going to ask are we not going to run any of our zone read stuff anymore, the answer is, no, we have to. It's part of our offense. We've just got to be smart about him getting down and hopefully people won't hit him in the head.''

A lot of the guys were talking after the game about mental mistakes and a lack of execution. Where do you see things going wrong and how do you fix things like that?

‘'Well, I think players all feel that way after a game. They're disappointed they didn't win. You know, they internalize it, and so they start thinking about things they could have done better. The truth of the matter is every football game is mental mistakes and things that didn't go right. But when you're not successful those things become magnified. It was not any more mistakes than the norm, it was just some huge things happened that were tough to overcome. We talked about Tony Dye taking his eyes off that ball – that's a huge play in the game. They inability to convert third downs, really kind of unforced errors, open receivers and not hitting the passes … those things that stalled out drives, you know, missing a field goal uncharacteristically. Those things are all tough to swallow, especially when you suffer a defeat.''

Is Kai healthy? He's missed three of his past four field goal attempts?

‘'He hasn't complained of anything. In the special teams meeting today he just said he didn't finish all the way through … just a fundamental issue. But I still am glad he's our kicker. He's pretty darn good.''

Did everyone else show up healthy?

‘'Yeah, everybody else is fine ... Tobi (Umodu) had a concussion in the game also.''

On kickoff return?


How is (Nelson) Rosario?

‘'Nelson came out no worse for wear. I don't know that he's 100 percent, but he's getting much closer.''

How is the morale of the team?

‘'You know, it isn't as vibrant as it was a week ago. But, I think, you know, you've got to get back out there and play. To sit around and not do anything for a few days, you just get kind of caught up in the malaise of defeat. To get back out there and practice tomorrow night will be just the tonic we need, and we have to go play like we're in the playoffs. We've got to win, and Arizona State is in the same situation, Cal is in the same situation, Washington is in the same situation. Oregon State is in the same situation. Everybody has got to win, so that's what we have to do.''

On the interception that Richard threw, what did he do wrong? This is kind of a recurring thing where he's on a roll and then he has a mental lapse like that …

‘'He came off and I said, ‘Tell me where you're going with that ball' and he came over and said, ‘That guy was supposed to bend,' and on that particular route, it doesn't call for that receiver to bend into the zone. So I was making sure he understood that. And, obviously, I've been told the television cameras catch us and so on and so forth. You know, we're both animated. But the receiver doesn't bend on that play.''

Define animated …

‘'You guys do the better job of that. You're the wordsmiths …''

Can you talk a little bit about Arizona State and where the challenges are?

‘'Arizona State is a very athletic team … very athletic team. And it's going to be a big challenge for us to go down there and play clean. Each of the last two times we've played Arizona State, some team has kind of beat themselves. It was us two years ago down there, last year they threw a ball to us and Alterraun (Verner) took it back for a touchdown. You have to play a clean game and if you do you'll be in the game and that's what we have to do. We have to go down there and just be very efficient.''

What's your take on the running game? It had a few moments the other night, but then …

‘'You know, running games are a lot alike. We've got almost a 1,000 yard back in Johnathan (Franklin), so you can take some hope from that. Both Richard and Kevin (Prince) have had days where they've gotten some substantial yardage running. But I think what we need is some more chunks within the drives. We've had a lot of 13, 14, 15, 17 play drives and those are hard to get over and over and over in a game. Defenses, you know, have scholarship players and they're going to make plays. And, so, we've got to figure out a formula of where we can start to gain some chunks of yardage so that we're not out there trying to keep doing that because every time you get to a third down and don't make it, you're hitting the bench again. But in terms of the running game, I think there are a lot of good things going on in the running game.''

It seemed the other night that what mucked up the running game is they really came up in the box on you guys and it seemed like it's not so much the running game that you need a little more out of, it's the passing game …

‘'I agree with that.''

How can you work to improve that at this point? Is it a schematic thing?

‘'Well, we have to throw and catch. As I told you, the other night there were some unforced errors and things that a week before we were hitting. We've got to be able to do that on the road as well.''

It was one of those games, it was a big emotional night for them, and you guys couldn't put them away and they hung around and hung around and when the momentum shifted, it shifted pretty big …

‘'Well, there is no question that they grabbed the momentum. Unfortunately, when they took the lead 10-7 we have a little drive going and that's when Richard got hit. It was difficult from that point on. But I still am optimistic and I believe that if we have a great week of practice and we have the right mindset – and it's going to be my job to make sure that we do – we're going to go down and play a really good football game in Arizona.''

I don't know, do coaches talk after the game about a hit like that on Richard? I mean, did you talk to Sarkisian?

‘'Oh, no. I don't think it was malicious. I don't think anyone was trying to do it. You know, it's two years in a row now we've lost our quarterback to Washington in similar circumstances. But I still don't believe either one of those players meant to do that.''

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