Neuheisel and Practice Report

Head Coach Rick Neuheisel brought a crushed helmet to his post-practice media huddle Thursday as an example of the Bruins' intensity. The youngsters will stay with the offensive line, Milton Knox talks about his maturation as a running back, and more...

Rick Neuheisel carried a prop into his post-practice media gathering – a helmet, with the face mask caved in. Not too much earlier, that helmet had been on the head of redshirt freshman linebacker Patrick Larimore, and it was crushed in a collision with tight end Logan Paulsen. No longer of any practical use, the helmet still was of value to Neuheisel.

"You get frustrated when things aren't clicking because everyone isn't doing everything exactly right, but if we continue to bring this kind of intensity, good things are going to happen," he said.

"It's up to the coaching staff to continue to get honed in on the fundamentals so that we get done what we want to do at all positions and as we start (Friday) one-a-day in full pads we'll start figuring out who's going to be our football team. But I like our intensity. If we have this kind of intensity we will be where we need to be."

With that, the Bruins' coach answered some brief questions...

You have a No. 1 quarterback. Do you have a No. 2 quarterback at this point?

"I think it's still an open competition. We've got to find somebody that plays consistently. We're not there yet."

Has Nick Crissman shown you more than you expected, considering what he is coming off of?"

"He's certainly got some skill, that's why he's a scholarship athlete here. But he's still way too inconsistent to be the guy out in a game.'"

His shoulder...

"It's coming along. It looks like he's still not sure that it's not all there, but it'll come. That will come. His confidence will grow, and I like Nick. He's a good kid. He and all the quarterbacks have to stay with the reads and trust what we're trying to get done and become consistent."

Any update on Dalton Hilliard?

"Everything is coming along as planned. My guess is early next week."

What did you see from Nik Abele on film last night."

"Love Abele. I think we're going to leave him on offense. He's a gifted guy. He has the right temperament. He's what we're looking at."

You had said were going to leave him on defense … what was it you saw on film?

"We wanted to have one more day of offense and my offensive line coach begged me for him just because he thinks there's a big-time player in there. We're going to leave him on offense for now."

Is this unique to have this many true freshmen running with the 1s?

"Well, with split sessions you can do that. You can kind of see how they fit in and where they are relative to guys who know where they are. Sometimes you can get a false sense of where a guy is when he's playing with a bunch of newcomers because it looks like he's ahead of that group. We'll figure out how many guys are running with 1s as we go down to one-a-days."

Practice notes:

The Bruins' split practice was heavy on fundamental work, but there were some nice plays made in both sessions, more probably were turned in by the defense.

Courtney Viney and Andrew Abbott picked off passes, as did Glenn Love and Tony Dye.

Freshman receiver Ricky Marvray continued to impress. Marvray participated in the early session, stuck around during the second practice catching some balls fired out of a Juggs gun and later put his pads back on and took some reps with the No. 1 offense. He made a very nice leaping catch of a pass from Richard Brehaut in the first session.

Here is Paulsen, on the collision with Larimore:

"That felt a little different, I'll tell you that right there. It's great to see guys coming out and doing that kind of stuff. It just shows that it's more important now. People are putting their bodies on the line – it's the fourth or fifth day of camp. It's kind of at that point where people are losing the intensity and then we get something like that, where Larimore comes down hill and bends his face mask so it looks like a pretzel. That's exactly what we need right now.

"So far in camp we've been a little more intense with each other. The drills have been a little bit more crisp. Guys have been getting after it, they've been finishing a little bit better. It's been that much sharper all around. That's symbolic of the first five days of camp – Larimore's helmet."

And the winner of that collision is? "I think Larimore, probably. I'm standing and he's bleeding but I'm feeling it all through my body," Paulsen said. "I'm hoping for a draw. When we go in and watch the film, I'm hoping for a draw."

Kai Forbath did not kick during the special teams portion of practice. A department spokesman said that he is not ailing, just was given the day off.

Offensive line coach Bob Palcic said that freshman left tackle Xavier Su'a-Filo and left guard Stan Hasiak, who have been getting all of their work with the No. 1 offensive line, will be there again Friday when the Bruins put on full pads for the first time this fall.

There was no change with the first-string line – Kai Maiava was at center, Hasiak and Eddie Williams at the guards and Su'a-Filo and Jeff Baca were the tackles.

Several players continue to get looks with the second and third lines. Sean Sheller, who came into camp as a tackle, is playing some at guard. Nick Ekbatani spent some time in the first practice at center.

"I have the ability to maybe give him a look at guard is all,'' Palcic said of Sheller. ‘'You know how I am, I like all my guys to play all the positions."

Tony Dye worked with the No. 1 defense at strong safety, while Glenn Love got his work in during the early session.

Milton Knox made some nice runs in the early session and has taken a lot of the extraneous movement out of his running style, making him quicker to and through the hole.

"In the spring they were telling me just to hit it," he said. "My father told me sometimes you can't make side to side moves, just hit it and take what they give you. I think I was in a habit of just trying to make plays every single time and trying to bust runs every single time. Now I'm just able to hit the hole and trust my speed. A lot of people have been telling me to trust my speed, use my speed on the field."

Knox had some interesting things to say about the changes he has made.

In high school you can do that and you're gone. But not here. He said: I think I've learned the game of college football. I'm understanding it more and now I just have to trust my instincts and just go with what I see instead of thinking about it too much. In the spring I was thinking about what I'm doing too much, not understanding the playbook, and thinking too much when I'm making my cuts and my reads. Now I'm just able to play football and make plays. It's starting to come natural to me. I'm able to just go and make big plays.

Has the new style given you more confidence with what you're doing?

I am more confident. Now I'm able to know what I'm doing and do my thing. I feel very confident in the backfield. I'm able to just make my reads and do a good job. Now, I'm just working on all aspects of my game, aside from the running part, now I'm trying to get to the point where I know what the receivers are doing and if they want to put me out at receiver or in the slot or anything. Now I can make catches or show other aspects of my game. I'm trying to be a complete back. Marshall Faulk is my favorite running back, so that's what I'm trying to do."

It's a lot cleaner now, isn't it?

It is, and now I have a lot more things in my arsenal. Now if I need to go side to side, I can do that. And now I'm able to just make that one cut and get up field, I can do that, also. I;m able to adjust my game and make plays."

Cornerback Alterraun Verner, who along with tackle Brian Price and linebacker Reggie Carter was selected to the watch list for the Bednarik Award, was back in practice. Verner had been dinged in practice on Wednesday.

One of the few places the Bruins have some depth is at the outside receiver spots. Terrence Austin and Taylor Embree, the Bruins' leading receivers a year ago, are back. Gavin Ketchum, Nelson Rosario, Jerry Johnson and Antwon Moutra are options. Freshmen Randall Carroll and Marvray have added speed and competitiveness to the group.

"Right now, we've got a couple of veterans, we've got some nice young talent in and we're looking for the top five guys to step up and see who's going to be the ones to get the playing time right now," receivers coach Reggie Moore said.

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