Bruins Practice; Toledo's Comments

The football team practiced for the first time since the USC game Monday; Robert Thomas is named Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year, and Head Coach Bob Toledo takes questions from the press...

The UCLA football team practiced for the first time since the USC loss on Monday. Earlier in the day, Head Coach Bob Toledo addressed questions at a press conference.

On injuries, Toledo said that senior free safety Marques Anderson was his "biggest concern" at this point. Toledo described how Anderson had torn cartilage in his ribs at the beginning of the USC game. Toledo said it's day-to-day for Anderson when it comes to possibly playing against Arizona State on Saturday.

Tab Perry is also doubtful for Saturday. He did some light work last week, caught some balls off the ball machine, and Toledo said Perry playing was "a possibility."

Questionable for Saturday's game against Arizona State are Jason Stephens, who is still suffering from turf toe; Matt Ware, with a separated shoulder; and Ryan Smith, with a sprained ankle. All three participated in limited practice Monday and appear that they will likely play on Saturday.

The Pac-10 announced it's all conference team, with UCLA placing five players on the first team, the most of any team in the conference, and UCLA linebacker Robert Thomas being named the Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year. Making the first team besides Thomas were DeShaun Foster, Kenyon Coleman, Ricky Manning and Nate Fikse. UCLA placed nine players overall on the first and second teams, tying with Stanford and Oregon. Bruins on the second team were Bryan Fletcher, Mike Saffer, Rodney Leisle and Marques Anderson.

Offensive player of the year was Joey Harrington, the Oregon quarterback. The co-freshmen of the year were Stanford wide receiver Teyo Johnson and Washington wide receiver Reggie Williams.

DeShaun Foster's attorney, Robert Berry, faxed a letter to UCLA Monday detailing why UCLA should appeal to the NCAA regarding Foster's eligibility. Reportedly, Berry takes exception with the NCAA's interpretations of some guidelines in determining the extent of Foster's suspension. UCLA will more than likely respond to Berry within a couple of days and determine whether they will take his recommendation and appeal to the NCAA.

The word is that the two bowl possibilities for UCLA are the Silicon Valley Bowl in San Jose or the Humanitarian Bowl in Boise, Idaho. The Silicon Valley Bowl looks the most likely, where UCLA would face Fresno State (10-2) at noon on December 31st. The Humanitarian Bowl will be played on the morning of the 31st, at 9:30, and UCLA would face the #3 team from the WAC.

Here are a few exerpts from Bob Toledo's press conference. Toledo comments on:

The USC game…

"Let's give USC credit. They beat us. We were obviously a very fragile football team at that point. I think when things started going bad, we couldn't get it turned around. And that was the thing that was most disappoing to me. When the landslide started and we couldn't get it stopped. Turnovers are so big. In the last four games I believe we've had 18 turnovers."

Last week…

"Sunday we watched the film and graded it. Started working on Arizona State. Monday we came back with our players, talked to them a little bit, showed them the video of the game, because there is still a lot they can learn. And then we more or less talked. They lifted weights Monday morning, but we didn't go out. I was working more on their psyches than anything else. That right there is our problem. We're very disappointed and rightfully so. When you have a disappointed football team you have to talk about it. So we had some great communication Monday, met with them as a team, and in groups, with the seniors, and a lot of great things came about. And then Tuesday, we had another brief meeting, went out and ran them, got a good sweat going and then told them they had the rest of the week off. We were going to try to practice Wednesday but I thought it was futile at that point. They needed to get away. They needed to heal mentally and physically. I've seen a few of them today and they're looking good. There's a little bounce back in their step. They're looking forward to playing another game. When you lose to your cross-town rivals and have lost four in a row, it's difficult to get up again. We, as coaches, worked through Wednesday night, formulating a game plan for Arizona State. We went back and looked at the game plan prior to the game being cancelled and then looked at what they've done since, and so we've made some subtle changes."

The chance to get some redemption by playing the make-up game against ASU…

"The players didn't want it to end it on the note they did two weeks ago. They want an opportunity to go out winners. You kind of always remember your last game. I'm glad we had a little break. We needed a break. Our coaches and players had gone through a very difficult time. It was a very trying time for all of us. But I feel good right now. I can't wait to go out and start practices and be with the guys."

The seniors wanting to play in a bowl game…

"I grabbed all the seniors, and they all wanted to play. I talked to them all individually and they all wanted to play. Robert Thomas came to my office this morning. I wanted to mention to him that I wanted to go with him to the Butkus deal. He said he was really excited about playing again. That he wants to play in a bowl game. And our coaches are very happey about playing in a bowl game."

On whether he's kicking himself over anything or second guessing…

"The thing with DeShaun obviously had a big effect on our team, because he's a friend of a lot of our players. When you look at it, and one of your goals is to compete for a national championship, and all of sudden you're 6-0 and all of the newspaper people are talking it up and telling the players how great they are, and then all of a sudden you lose, and I think the BCS is a little bit at fault, our players almost felt like, ‘Wow, there it all goes.' And in talking to them that's how they felt. We lose one game and it's gone. It really wasn't. But young guys work hard to get to this position, they had it right there and then they lost that Stanford game, and that took some air out of their sails. And then of course you go up to Washington State, turn the ball over and still have a chance to beat them and lost that one. Then to come home and lose a real heart-breaker to a team that is third or fourth in the BCS, knowing we could have beat them as well. It took more wind out of the sail. And then you see the DeShaun thing come to a head and then Cory Paus was a story, those are the things I look back on and say, ‘Wow, I wish none of those things could have happened.' But they did, and that's life."

 


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