Monday Report, Coach Comments

Quarterback Kevin Prince bounced back from a poor morning session Monday to have a considerably sharper practice in the afternoon. Rick Neuheisel talked about his dwindling depth on the defensive line, and moving two offensive linemen there to compensate...

The No. 1 offense had some issues in the first of two practices on Monday, but it came back in the afternoon behind Kevin Prince and was considerably sharper.

Prince was getting through his reads better and threw the football much more consistently. In a red zone 7-on-7, Prince hit consecutive passes to Johnathan Franklin, Morrell Presley, Presley again, Terrence Austin and Austin again for a touchdown.

He also threw a nice touchdown pass to Taylor Embree during that period.

Here is offensive coordinator Norm Chow on the difference between the sessions: "We moved the ball pretty good. I think Kevin had a real good day. He's really getting it mentally, you know? I think when you understand what you're doing, it comes a lot easier to you, the game kind of gets a lot simpler for you and he seems to be doing a nice job of it. He's a very diligent guy. He works hard. We have meetings at night and we'll call off the meeting and he'll go in and get treatment and he'll go back by himself to watch that tape, that kind of stuff."

Chow on one other thing to consider when watching the offense: "What happens is, it doesn't always match. (The defense) is working on their deals, we're working on our deals. Like today, (Defensive Coordinator) Chuck (Bullough) wanted to see a couple of things, so we ran plays for them. And when I want to see a certain coverage it looks like, ‘Oh, great touchdown,' but they're servicing us. I don't pay attention to that kind of stuff. Now, hopefully, we're not throwing interceptions."

Kevin Craft also took a number of reps with the No. 1 offense, ahead of Richard Brehaut. Craft had some positive moments, throwing some nice passes. In the red zone period he threw a touchdown pass to tight end Ryan Moya, but there also were times where he locked in on a receiver, to predictable results.

Senior Micah Kia had taken No. 1 reps at left guard in the morning, but freshman Stan Hasiak was back there for the afternoon session. The No. 1 line was as it has been through most of camp – Kai Maiava at center, Hasiak and Eddie Williams at the guards and Xavier Su'a-Filo and Jeff Baca at the tackles.

The No. 2 offensive line had Ryan Taylor at center, Kia and Darius Savage at the guards and Mike Harris and Nik Abele at the tackles.

Derrick Coleman and Franklin had nice runs in an early 11-on-11. Franklin flashed through the line after a nice block by Hasiak.

There were two position switches, with Sean Sheller moving to the 3-technique defensive tackle from offensive guard/tackle and Connor Bradford moving to defensive end from offensive tackle.

The Bruins' lack of depth up front defensively is showing, with tackle Jess Ward out for two to three weeks with a tear in the medial collateral ligament in his right knee and end Reggie Stokes out for a yet to be determined amount of time with torn cartilage in his right knee.

Sheller said that he had fun his first day on the defensive line since high school. "I could tell I'm going to like this," he said. "I'm already catching on. I'm an offensive lineman at heart, but I'm going to have fun wherever I go. I'm going to play hard."

Defensive line coach Todd Howard is a master of teaching technique. His take: ‘'Sheller showed some promise. He's been here four years. He's a big body. We'll teach him techniques and I expect he'll be able to get in there and give us 15 to 20 snaps if we need them. The way he showed up today, I feel like he can get it done. Bradford is athletic. I've always noticed that, just from going against him. He has upper body quickness. He's pretty aggressive. We just have to see how tough he is. I mean, coming from offense and having to move to defense, that's going to be the main factor, watching his toughness.''

With Stokes down, freshman Keenan Graham was getting reps with the No. 2 defense at defensive end. The depth at the ends is a concern with Stokes out with torn cartilage in his right knee, Chinonso Anyanwu out for a few months after hip surgery and freshman Iuta Tepa hindered with a hamstring strain. The only healthy ends are starters Datone Jones and Korey Bosworth, Damien Holmes, Graham and Bradford.

Here is coach Rick Neuheisel on the session:

"Good practice. I like where we're going. We're kind of getting into a rhythm, which all teams do and I was just reminding them that the rhythm can't get comfortable. We have to keep pushing. Those places that require competition to get us better have to keep fighting and clawing and scratching to be the best and we just have to be mindful of that. I like the rhythm, but I have to keep guys pushing and that's my job. So, that's where we are."

You talked this morning about the need to throw to your own guys, what has been the issue there with the quarterbacks?

"We just stay locked on things. I mean, we're not staying true to the progression of the read. We see somebody and we try to stay there. It's like throwing chum to piranhas. Your eyes … everybody goes. They go right where your eyes are and even if the guy who is there doesn't catch it, it gets tipped up in the air and all the surrounding defenders pick it off. If we just stay on our read, and sometimes the read breaks down because the backside had to protect or you just lost somebody, then you just tuck it and we punt. But we can't throw the ball to the other team and we're going to keep making a major issue of it."

The adjustment on that, is it done inside or out here?

"Both. Out here and also certainly inside. We go through the reads and Coach Chow will take them through the footwork and we'll see if we get there. Eventually, we'll find someone who can do it consistently."

Are you looking for solutions on your defensive line?

"Well, I moved a couple guys. We moved Connor Bradford to try to help us on defense. He runs well. He's probably not big enough right now to be a frontline player on the offensive line, but he's a great athlete so we're going to take a look at him. And Sean Sheller has volunteered to go over there and give it a try. Part, you have to look at things in the event of emergency. Part, is we have the luxury of time right now to take a look."

Is this part of the gap of not having (Brandon) Warner?

"Well, not really. I think the gap was going to be there. We wouldn't be talking about it if Jess Ward weren't nicked right now. But those are realities so we're just planning for every eventuality right now and rather than wait and give a guy three days of practice we ought to do it now and, like I said, we have the luxury with the time we have."

Did you ask for volunteers?

"Both those kids are great kids. I had conversations with both of them and both of them were, ‘If I can help the team,' which is the way you want it."

The red zone offense looked sharp...

"Or my red zone defense was a little sluggish, right? It's encouraging to see the offense have some success, but again, we go micro or macro. Micro, I want to know what was going on defensively. And macro, it's good for there to be some level of confidence on the offense and hopefully it will spur them on to get even better."

Well, see we're relentlessly optimistic, so we thought the offense...

"God bless you. You know what, you are starting to get it. I love that."


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