Neuheisel Sunday Teleconference

Rick Neuheisel talks about the Tennessee game, the fractured jaw of quarterback Kevin Prince, and the plan for determining a starting QB for the Kansas State game on Saturday...

Opening remarks:

‘'Obviously, still exited about the victory, but brought back to earth pretty quickly when you look at the film and see all the things that can be fixed. We've just got to make sure that our football team understands that while it's a nice win and one we'll be proud of, it in no way can create a thought that we have arrived. We still have a lot of work to do to become the program that we want to be.

‘'We're very disappointed in the injury to Kevin Prince. He got hit as he was trying to get out of the end zone, and it was helmet-to-helmet contact as he tried to get out, after he was on the ground. I'm not faulting (anyone), I think it was just a bang-bang play, but it was unfortunate.

‘'He'll be gone probably three to four weeks, but I know he'll heal quickly and come back as soon as he can and in the meantime, we've got a couple of other quarterbacks that I'm excited about and I know are going to be eager to have their day. We'll look forward to seeing how they perform.''

In looking at that play, first, who called that play?

‘'That was my idea.''

Can you run through what the advantages were versus the risks on that?

‘'Well, they were out of timeouts, so if you make a first down, the game is over. The risk was … 'Kevin, you're not throwing this ball unless the guy is wide open; you're not going to fumble; all I want you to do if there's no one open is try to get back out to the line of scrimmage so we still have our 40 seconds and have our cake and eat it, too. But if you can't, I understand and we'll punt and we'll take the 30 yards of field position because you're punting from the back of your end zone and we'll punt from the 20 and we'll go play defense … our defense has had a great day.'''

You said (Saturday) that you were going to take the safety anyway ...

‘'Yeah … I was going to take the safety.''

That would have been on the punt?

‘'Yeah, we would have done that on the punt.''

Couldn't that have been accomplished by just running a quarterback sneak and running 40 seconds off the clock, then giving the ball back to them with under a minute left?

‘'Yeah, but then you lose the chance to not give the ball back to them. Now, had you told me I was going to lose my quarterback, I think I would have gone with your quarterback sneak. But that did not factor into my mind. … And the truth of the matter is, in looking at the play, you know, we were out there clean. The receiver, Ryan Moya, got knocked into the backfield as he was trying to avoid the edge pressure. If he can avoid the edge pressure, you know, we're going to be close to making the first down or at least occupy the defender that then covers Logan Paulsen and I think it would have been a easy exchange, a first down, and ice the game.''

Given that he is a redshirt freshman and how the tenor of the game had gone, you're getting a lot of pressure, should that have been on your mind, though?

‘'It sounds like you're going to write that anyway.''

I'm asking. Would you rather I write that without asking your opinion?

‘'Well, I'm telling you what I was thinking. Now, if you told me I was going to lose my quarterback, I would take the quarterback sneak. But I did not figure that in. I thought it was worth the risk.''

Should that have been figured into your equation, though?

‘'I trust my quarterback. I mean, I trust him. And safety, I was already going to take a safety, so that was the worst-case scenario in my mind.''

Given the injuries to the quarterbacks last year, I asked Kevin if he would be taking it easy this year and avoiding those big hits. Can you just not play like that as a quarterback, and do you at least admire that he plays with that kind of grit?

‘'I love the way he plays. There were times when he would just duck out of bounds and he'll learn that as he goes. But he's a tough kid. A lot of the hits he took were just because Tennessee was pretty stout up front. This particular hit was not a hit that he took in a pass rush situation. This was a hit that he took when he was on the ground. It's unfortunate, it certainly is.''

Was he on the ground or on the way to the ground?

‘'He was on the ground when he got hit.''

Would that lead you to think the hit was ...

‘'It was bang-bang. I mean, I'm not calling for a flag on the play. But it was close.''

Moving forward, has any decision been made  as to who will start the Kansas State game?

‘'Norm (Chow) and I will talk and we'll watch practice and we'll go from there.''

Is there a point you need to have that decision made ... Tuesday, Wednesday?

‘'You know, I don't think so. You've got an experienced player in Kevin Craft. He's played a lot of football. You have a very young kid, who played pretty well the other night in a brief stint against San Diego State . We'll wait and see. I wouldn't be surprised if both got to play.''

What are the upsides and downsides to using either one of them?

‘'Well, we have a lot of confidence in Richard Brehaut. He was a big-time recruit and he's proven that he belongs at this level. I thought when he went into the game, though the outcome was not any longer in question, he didn't look nervous. He went out there and he played and he played well. And I've seen enough good things from Kevin Craft to know that he can go out and be our quarterback and we can play fine. We still want to make sure we have the best player out there and we'll make that decision when it's warranted.''

What's different about Kevin Craft from last season?

‘'Well, hopefully he's going to get a little bit more time to throw the ball. But he's got to be mindful that we can't turn the ball over.''

Was time the main issue last year, or were there other issues?

‘'That was definitely an issue last year. Yeah, absolutely. I'm not taking all the responsibility off of Kevin, but time to throw is imperative.''

Does this mean you run the ball a little more the next couple of weeks, to take pressure off Craft or Brehaut?

‘'Well, you know, that's a great answer. But you have to do what the defense is dictating. If the defense is up there saying you're not going to run the ball and you can stand up there and throw it and make good plays, you have to make them pay for that.''

How devastating is this for the locker room, considering the quarterback injury issues you had last year?

‘'You know, I really don't think that's a factor. I think this is a different edition of UCLA football and we're going to weather it. We weathered the Aaron Hester injury a week ago, and I think guys, like I said, are resilient. I think we'll continue to march forward and hopefully get Kevin back quickly.''

Three to four weeks. Is that to when he is practicing or playing again?

‘'You know, I don't know. I'm hopeful that he'd be ready to go here before long.''

Can you run through the timetable when you figured out this was pretty serious? (Saturday) night everyone including Kevin thought it was a lighhearted story of a dentists's son losing a tooth ...

‘'I found out this morning, actually around noon time, that they had done X-rays that they thought were just precautionary but they discovered something.''

How much does this impede Kevin's development?

‘'You know, I think it's a blip on the radar. It's an unfortunate setback, but it allows us to continue to develop our other guys in the program. I think he'll be back here before long and hopefully we can continue to play good football and the kind of football that can end up with victories.''

Were there any other injuries that came up?

  ‘'No, that was the one of note.''

Further Update on Prince

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