Wednesday Morning Another Good One

The morning session Wednesday is another good one for quarterback Kevin Prince and the offense. Rick Neuheisel comments about it, and about the "science" of motivating different players. A true freshman steps up into the two-deep at defensive end, and starting tailback Christian Ramirez talks about his hamstrings...

It was a solid morning for Kevin Prince and the offense. They again did a lot of work out of the shotgun and the redshirt freshman quarterback was sharp, made some nice throws. Two of the best went for scores - the first to Terrence Austin and the second to freshman Randall Carroll.

Austin beat freshman cornerback Brandon Sermons and freshman safety Stan McKay on a post and made a nice adjustment to the ball to get away from the defenders and make the catch before going out of the back of the end zone. Carroll later ran away from Alterraun Verner on a deep route up the left sideline and caught the ball a good five yards clear of the nearest defender.

The concern was the tempo or level of enthusiasm, which Coach Rick Neuheisel addressed at his post-practice meeting with the media.

"Good practice. I just would have liked a little more enthusiasm," he said. "We got a lot of work done, but you can tell there's a little bit of that stuff going on. I want to challenge them to be up to play, to play, to play. It's going to be easy to play when the band is playing. We have to make sure we can push through when things aren't going our way. That was the message I tried to get through this morning, but I do think we're moving along nicely. Lots of young players progressing and I'm anxious to watch us on Saturday. We're going to scrimmage a little bit this afternoon to see how it goes, but I like where we are."

Running back Christian Ramirez, who has missed some time with a tight right hamstring, was able to take some reps. He is expected to be able to do more work in the afternoon session and right now is looking forward to the scrimmage on Saturday.

"Ramirez said: "I'm feeling a lot better. The only reason I sat out was because I was feeling a little tight. They wanted to give me a little rest, let it calm down."

Has the hamstring set you back?

"All I know is I have to catch up, basically. I really didn't want to miss any practice. Unfortunately, I did. I'm just trying to get back into rhythm."

Do you think it will affect your rhythm going into the season?

"Before the scrimmage I still have three or four more practices. That's still enough time to lather it up. For the season, that's why I'm taking care of it now, so when it gets close to game time I'm not feeling any of this tightness or anything."

The current injury is to the right hamstring, and in the spring it was the left, and hamstring. Once the season comes you should be fine, right, you're out of hamstrings?

"Sure, I hope."

Safety Tony Dye, who took a shot to the head in practice on Tuesday, does not have a concussion but was held out as a precaution.

With defensive end Regginald Stokes headed for surgery to repair torn cartilage in his knee, freshman Keenan Graham is working with the No. 2 defense behind starter Korey Bosworth.

A quick Q&A with the freshman from Las Vegas...

You're running with the 2s now, how is that working out?

"As of right now it's going great. I wasn't expecting to be there early on. I was a No.3 guy. I didn't have a problem with that, I just wanted to get better and try to work hard to move up on the depth chart. But being a No. 2 right now feels really good and I'm doing everything that I can to get ready."

Coming in, were you thinking you could play this year or were you thinking redshirt?

"Coming in here, it was pretty much do everything I can and see what happens type of deal. I was hoping I could get some playing time. I knew I was going to come in here and work as hard as I could and hopefully get in the rotation somewhat, but now that I'm No. 2 I'm grateful and I'm going to do everything I can to keep the position."

So what do you have to do to do that?

"Improve every day, because I can't come out here making the same mistakes over and over again. I have to mature a lot faster than I probably would have being a No. 3 or redshirting. I'm going to take it day by day and take in everything Coach (Todd) Howard has to teach me and go from there."

How have you progressed, technique-wise?

"I feel like I've progressed a lot. Since I've been here I've improved. I listen to everything that Coach Howard tells me and it works. Now I have to get to the point where I'm doing it consistently and not just every now and then, because everything he teaches me works. I just need to execute it and use it with the ability I already have."

Physically you feel like you're ready to go out there, win battles and everything?

"Yes, sir, I do. Hopefully in the off-season I'll get a little bigger, but right now that I'm No. 2, they need me. I feel like I can go out there and compete right now."

You must be looking forward to it more now...

"I'm definitely working forward to it. I can't wait. We have that clock above the locker room door – every day I l ook at it. I remember when it was still like 78 days when I got here in June and now it's 17. I'm getting really excited for it."

Cornerback Andrew Abbott, who has been out with a concussion, was back on the field and took some reps.

Linebacker Steve Sloan, also down with a concussion, was on the field but did not participate in any of the periods.

Here is the rest of Neuheisel, after the practice:

Any closer to a No. 2 quarterback?

"No, I think we'll wait until after Saturday to see what happens then and see if we need to make a decision after that."

Do you expect those decisions to come pretty fast after the scrimmage?

"The idea after Saturday is you spend a couple more days maybe finalizing some decisions and then Wednesday you go into full preparation for San Diego State. So decisions will have to be made at some point by then. But, usually when you're making those kind of close decisions, both guys will play. It's just which one you're going to go with first."

Will (Christian) Ramirez do more in the afternoon?

"I think so. That's what I was told, he'll be ready to go a little more full speed this afternoon, get him some live work."

What were the results with (Tony) Dye?

"I think he'll be ready (Thursday). There was no concussion, but we're being safe."

Compare where the offense is, last year to this year...

"We're ahead. There's no question we're ahead, and that's exciting, especially when you see as many young players. We just have to keep going. Again, I have two visions. I have the macro – I'm very excited about the future of our program. And I've got the micro – I have a thousand things that have to get fixed."

Quarterbacks looked good today...

"Better, yeah. Good day. But now I have to find out what's wrong with our defense, that's the head coach's world. But we'll address it. We'll figure it out. But I feel good. I feel good about where we are as a football team. We just have to keep pushing."

Do you feel like you had to pat your quarterbacks on the back (after a practice like the one this mornign) after those few days there with all the interceptions?

"Some personalities can take a pat on the back, some personalities need continual pushing, and that's the science of coaching. Some guys can respond well to a nice compliment – a 'way to go.' Some guys relax when they get that. I think all these players are well aware that the coaches care about them. I think we've got good guys, they spend time with them off the field. We've got a nice trust relationship between player and coach. But that doesn't mean that the sugar-salt ratio is always the same for individuals. Individuals require different levels of that to get the most out of them, that's the science of it."

What kind of guy is Prince?

"He's a self starter. He can take a little sugar. He can take a little. I don't want to give him too much – he's too young."


Smilingjeffrey, one of our BRO premium board denizens, does excellent practice reports. Here's his observations from Wednesday morning.

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