Coach Rick Neuheisel and offensive line coach Bob Palcic discussed the changes after a practice where the defense continued its strong play and the outside receivers on offense had a rough day trying to hold onto the football, with a slew of dropped passes.
Running back Johnathan Franklin, who led the Bruins with 45 rushing yards in the Saturday scrimmage, had another solid day, breaking some long runs.
Rick Neuheisel's Comments
"We have not settled on a quarterback yet, but I do see improvement at the position. I thought Kevin Prince handled his business well and I thought both Kevin and Richard Brehaut had bright spots. Kevin still has to keep from turning the ball over. He had one inexplicable (play) just kind of slipped out of his hand and one poor decision that resulted in an interception, and those are the kind of things that plagued us a year ago and we cannot afford to let plague us again this fall.
But aside from that, I though that position played well. I thought Johnathan Franklin, as I thought after the practice, was a bright spot in the thing. The second offensive line did some good things. Our first offensive line remains a concern because we're not able to hold the point of attack, though the first drive would have kept going. They made the first down but it was at the end of the 12-play sequence so maybe you come away with some point there. "And I'm very proud of the defense. I think the defense is playing well, especially our first group. Now, the next seven practices it will be important to develop some depth on defense and get some guys that can fill in should our starters not be able to go in any particular week. But I like where we are. The energy has got to stay where it is and hopefully tomorrow we'll get a big day. We took the pads off the legs today so that we could get a big day tomorrow, a real physical day, and hopefully get some red zone stuff done and have a real good go at it."
Sonny Tevaga was running with the 1s...
"Well, we had a little juggling. With Logan Paulsen being down, Nate Chandler, our ambassador of the year award, has agreed to go back to tight end and it's something that we're probably going to leave him at because obviously that position is a little bit … you've got Cory Harkey with a hamstring, Logan with a foot. Those are the kinds of things that, knock on wood, you've got to be prepared because those things can happen. It's imperative that we have some depth at the tight end position and Nate is a quality, quality, on-the-line-of-scrimmage tight end. It will be a good move for us."
When you talk about leaving him there, you mean beyond spring ball?
"Yeah, for the fall as well."
Will he have to drop some weight now?
"I'll have to assess that as I watch the next couple weeks."
Does that mean he didn't develop as you wanted him to?
"No, no. It has nothing to do (with that). I thought he was doing a nice job at tackle, but we've got some kids coming in at tackle. We've got some ways to move. We don't have any way to move tight ends right now, so we're going to continue to watch him in there for the rest of the spring and we'll see how it develops in the fall and keep our options open."
What is the update with Paulsen?
"hey were to have a MRI today. I don't know that I've gotten any results back from that. But that was pending. There was an imaging taken, but the screw is intact in the original X-ray and so hopefully it's just not another fracture."
Either way, he's done for the spring?
"Yeah, we're not going to mess with him any more this spring."
What's your theory on the broken fifth metatarsals?
"You know, I had a similar circumstance at Washington. I had Jerramy Stevens, a tight end there, who broke his fifth metatarsal and the complaint was the shoe that they're wearing doesn't have enough of a sole to fit their foot; because they're big guys their fifth, their little toe, if you will, hangs over the edge when they're making their cuts and it almost happens when they're cutting on it."
"Mike was going over a bag, so he probably landed on it on the side."
Is this something you have to keep any eye on?
"We're going to have to. We're going to have to keep exploring it. Not blaming anybody, but we've got to keep working toward a solution because it's a costly injury obviously. But that's why you saw some jockeying around. We took (Jeff) Baca and made him a left tackle and then moved Sonny (Tevaga) up to the guard position."
Anything pop out on tape from the scrimmage that you didn't expect?
"You know, I think Andrew Abbott is doing a great job at corner and can help us. I think Tony Dye is doing a great job at the safety position – I think he can play anywhere back there and create some competition in the back end. E.J. Woods is coming along. Datone Jones is becoming a real force. I love our linebackers – Reggie Carter, Akeem Ayers and Kyle Bosworth, they look the part and are playing well. Jerzy Siewierski is playing well. Brian Price is obviously difficult for us to block."
Do you ever think about sitting Price so you can get some work done on offense?
If I could just get the other teams next year to sit some of their guys then that might be a good idea. But I like seeing how things are going defensively. Offensively, we've go to play with a little more emotion up front. There has to be a little more emotion up front. There's got to be a little more eagerness to come off the ball. Kai Maiava is a pleasant surprise. He's going to help us at center. He's able to hold the point and not get pushed back. That's an upgrade. I think that the running game can come. I think these young backs are starting to get it. Now we just need some receivers to get off of guys who are covering them and make some plays. Rosario Nelson I think is the guy who is doing the best job at that, and Terrence Austin, obviously."
Now that you're about halfway through with spring, do you notice any real big differences with Chuck Bullough as defensive coordinator?
"We're just through installation right now so, no, I don't see a whole bunch of difference. I think we're playing well. We're playing instinctively. It will be fun to watch them now as the install is in and they can start flying around and see how they look, but there's no drop off in tenacity, which is comforting."
You mean from the players on the field?
"From a year ago. I think we're better athletically, but the tenacity is still there."
Do you know when you get Christian Ramirez back?
"He supposedly went through some individual drills today. I did not get my eyes on him to see, but if he comes out of that fine then hopefully we'll get more out of him as the week progresses."