Practice Notes, Neuheisel Quotes

Kevin Prince looks sharp with the 1s, some key personnel sat out of practice, and Rick Neuheisel comments about Mike Stoops getting fired at Arizona...

Overall, it was a pretty sharp day for Kevin Prince in his first day back with the 1's, and Brett Hundley looked decent taking the No. 2 reps, but obviously has a steep learning curve with getting up to game speed on the zone read.

The team spent only the last eight minutes or so of practice doing team work with the 1's against the 1's, with Prince and Hundley splitting reps under pressure. Prince looked good, completing 4 of 5 passes, with the only incompletion being a drop by Taylor Embree on a short dig. Hundley looked like a talented freshman, at one point throwing a nice ball to Joe Fauria on a seam pass that probably would have resulted in offensive pass interference during a game, but then also doing some unnecessary scrambling that had him doing pushups at the end of practice.

In run game drills, the coaches had Hundley taking all of the reps to get him used to the game speed of running the offense and get him some more work with the zone read. He's not the fastest guy on the field, but he's got a nice burst and can certainly beat linebackers to the edge. It'll be interesting to see his progress in the passing game this week.

In the 7 on 7, Prince looked especially sharp. Aside from an overthrown deep ball to Cory Harkey, Prince completed 7 of 8 passes, with the only miss being a drop by Randall Carroll that hit him in the hands. But timing-wise, Prince was on the money. Hundley also looked decent in the 7 on 7, going 5 of 6, but he was helped by his receivers, with Jerry Rice Jr. in particular diving to the ground for a ball that was short armed.

Rice stood out on scout offense as well, running a deep post between Aaron Hester and Andrew Abbot for a long completion. In receiver drills, Carroll made a really nice catch on a deep ball from Prince, one handing it to keep it alive and then finally corralling it in the corner of the end zone.

Defensively, Sean Westgate was practicing with the 1's for most of the practice and Eric Kendricks took most of his reps with 2's. Westgate still has the club on his hand.

In field goal periods at the beginning of practice, Tyler Gonzalez was 3 of 4, with his miss from about 30 yards that just hooked left a little. Kip Smith made his return, going 2 of 3 with the miss being pushed way right. One of the makes also didn't look good, knuckling and just barely clearing the cross bar, so he's obviously got some rust to shake off. He worked off to the side practicing his kicking against the fence for the majority of practice.

Nelson Rosario and Shaquille Evans both sat out practice, with Rosario nursing a sprained foot he suffered on his first catch during the Washington State game and Evans being held out for precautionary reasons due to concussive symptoms. Sheldon Prince remained out with a brace on his knee, but ran straight ahead sprints on the sidelines. Chris Ward was dressed and stood with the O-line for drills but did not take part. Tony Dye, Richard Brehaut, Alex Mascarenas, Anthony Barr, Kevin McReynolds, Jamie Graham, and Glenn Love all sat out.

Alberto Cid experienced a little shortness of breath about halfway through practice and was held out for the remainder for precautionary reasons. Wade Yandall took his snaps at guard.

Justin Edison and Johnathan Franklin both practiced in red no-hit jerseys, but Franklin didn't seem to show any ill effects from the shoulder injury.

Neuheisel Quotes:

"Obviously, good to be back out with our team. A good day of work considering what the week really needs to be which is a return to basics, a return to fundamental play. There's a number of players who are going to get crash courses, if you will, to make sure they're ready for the second half of our season. Brett Hundley would be a guy in that category. And it's just about making sure we have the inventory both offensively and defensively and then special teams to be able to compete and to compete successfully in what promises to be an exciting second half of the season starting in Tucson. We did not game plan for Arizona today. It was more of a day to just make sure we're building what we need from an attitude standpoint and from an inventory standpoint for the second half."

Q: How close is Brett to being ready to play?

A: Well, I'll know more this time next week but I feel like given the situation, given how the future stacks up, I think he'll be ready. I think his urgency will go up exponentially.

Q: How about Stoops getting released at Arizona. Does that change your game planning?

A: It's one of those things that as a coach you're saddened by because I know Mike, and I wish him well. And I also know that he gave a lot of his heart and soul to that university. That being said, I also know that team will respond in the way that they should, meaning that they'll come out and play, they'll play as hard as they can. Whenever there's a change, regardless of the reasons why, there's always kind of a fresh start. They'll feel like this is kind of a fresh start. From that standpoint, you just know that they're going to have a lot of energy when they step onto that field. We gotta match that. We've got every bit the same reason for energy to be high so we've just got to understand that and look forward to that kind of contest.

Q: Does that make the preparation kind of a wild card, because there might be some changes to what they've been doing?

A: Well, certainly there can be some tinkering because if there were things that coaches wanted to do but were not allowed to because of Mike's wishes, those are no longer there. So that can happen. And they have extra time to get it accomplished, but I don't know how you can prepare for that other than to just get ready to play and make adjustments as they occur during the course of the game."

Q: What are some of the key fundamentals during the bye week that you're going to work on in order to improve?

A: Offensively, we want to make sure that we've got all the equipment necessary for running the passing game. We've got to Kevin back up to speed. We've got to get Brett Hundley caught up and we have to have balance in our offense as well as the ability to continue to run the ball successfully. Defensively, we've got to do a better job of stopping the run. Now this team has not shown a propensity for that being something that they're really excited about, but they've run the ball against us in the past. They did a great job against us a year ago running the football. So we've got to be prepared for that. But ultimately, the third down defense is where we've got to make the big stride in the second half of the season."

Q: At the beginning of the season there was a big focus on having a balanced offense. How happy are you with that at the halfway point of the season?

A: Well, I'm happy. Now, I look at the stats and we're last in the conference in passing but we're right at 200 yards a game. This is a very pass happy conference. There was a time long ago when 200 yards would have been right in the middle of the conference. But our yards per attempt are way up from where they were a year ago so we're getting what we want from the passing game. This was the first time in a long time where somebody controlled the clock on us. Washington State did a good job of that. We were fortunate to find ways to victory, but we've got to have balance. We've got to do what the defense is telling us to do by the way they play us.

Q: Tony Dye's status right now?

A: We're trying to just rest him up and see if whatever's ailing him can subside and ultimately we'll make a decision next week as to where he is and what his future is with respect to this season.

Q: What's Nelson (Rosario's) status?

A: Nelson has a little bit of a foot sprain, but I don't think it's anything significant. Just resting him a couple of days.

Q: How about (Shaquille) Evans?

A: Shaq had the laceration to his face. They were nervous of some concussive symptoms, but we're not sure. We'll hopefully have him back before the end of this week, too.

Q: He seemed to hit knees with the defensive back on the touchdown play. Is his knee ok?

A: The knee's fine. The only thing was that they thought he was a little dazed, and then the cut on the face.

Q: Is there any timetable for Richard (Brehaut)?

A: I've been told it was a clean break so there's every reason to think that he can make it back. Knowing his history of healing quickly, I wouldn't be shocked to see him back here before too long goes by.

Q: How'd Kevin (Prince) look today?

A: Good. He's a good player. I've always thought so. It's about consistency for him. We're going to work his tail off so we can expect consistency on Saturdays.

Q: When a guy has three interceptions like that, do you pinpoint every mistake he makes or do you kind of try to push that away?

A: Both. The answer is you want to learn from it but then you want to file it away so it doesn't become a burden. So it doesn't become baggage that you carry around with you. Ultimately, Kevin's got to relax and throw and not aim. It's a great line in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid where Robert Redford can't hit anything and he looks at the guy and says "can I move?" and all of a sudden he hits the target 15 times in a row or what have you. It's cause he's not thinking. Really that's what we've got to get Kevin to do. Just not think about "should I or shouldn't I?", just throw. Just trust your reads and let it go.

Q: Do you think Kevin's over thinking has to do with Richard looking over his shoulder?

A: I don't think so. I don't think Kevin shied away from competition, I really didn't. Kevin wants to succeed as badly as anybody. I just think Kevin needs to relax and play and they're going to work his tail off so that he doesn't have anything else to think about.

Q: Does the quarterback situation, where you need to get those guys more time, does that affect how you've structured the practices this week?

A: A little bit in terms of how we go about our drills. This last period of practice where we did pass under pressure against our own defense was maybe the best period because it's live action or as close to live action as we can manufacture without having bodies all over the field and it also makes guys make decision with respect to protection, with reads, and so forth. So those are all terrific learning lessons especially for the youngster.

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