Saturday Notes, Neuheisel, Presley

Coach Rick Neuheisel spoke about losing a player to a broken leg Saturday at practice, a new coach to work with the corner backs, and Morrell Presley talked about the first three days of practice and how he's taken it up a notch...

RICK NEUHEISEL

Opening statement:

‘'A great day marred by an unfortunate accident. We lost Brandon Sermons today to a fractured femur, which is an extensive injury. Probably, surgery will take place tonight. Brandon obviously is a great young player in our program and was involved in a one-on-drill and, I'm not sure exactly how it happened, but unfortunately freak things happen.

‘'But, I've been reminded already that when Freddie Mitchell had the same injury back in '98, he was back that same season. So, tough times don't last, tough people do and our guys will reach out give as much support to Brandon as we can and he's tough enough to handle the misfortune. But that marred today.

‘'Aside from that, it was a great physical day. We get to pour over a lot of tape and I think we're going to like the direction we're headed. The key is to be able to practice with this kind of intensity and this kind of effort on a 15-practice basis and to make sure that we never take a step backwards. If we can do that and keep learning what we're doing across the board with respect to assignments, we're going to develop into a good football team, especially when we put together our very talented freshman class with these guys in August. We're on the right path, feel good about it, just sad for Brandon.''


Is this turf dangerous?

‘'No, I don't think it had anything to do with the turf. We'll look at the tape and see. I mean, he was in a one-on-one drill and just I think got his foot caught with the receiver, and then stuck and the pressure came to the femur. That would be my guess, but we'll look. I don't think we've had an injury like that on this before. We play on this all over the country. I don't think it's an issue with this.''


Considering the first day (in pads) are you happy the intensity didn't go overboard?

‘'Or over the wall … No, I've been impressed with the intensity from the outset and that's a tribute to Mike Linn and his crew in terms of all the work and investment that these guys have put forth in the off-season to get ready for this. We're an excited group. We've got a lot still to prove, but there are a lot of kids on this team that believe that good things are in store. Now it's important to make sure we do everything we can to make sure it's not just a belief, that it becomes a reality.''


Can you talk about Daronte' Jones and bringing him in?

‘'Daronte is a great acquisition. He was a full-time coach at Bowie State and he was highly recommended from a friend of mine who works for the Ravens, and told me about him. So, we had Daronte come out and he was a terrific interview and is excited about this chance to come and participate on a great defensive staff and be at this level and I think he's going to be a great addition to our coaching staff.''


His main focus will be the secondary?

‘'His main focus is secondary and in particular corners.''


Can you talk about that position, Aaron (Hester) and Sheldon (Price) … Have they locked that down yet?

‘'No, we've got a lot of competition going on at corner with Aaron and Sheldon and Andrew Abbott and a host of other guys, Marlon Pollard. There are a number of kids that are still working at it and then you're going to add Anthony Jefferson and you're going to take a look at Tevin McDonald and Shaquille Richardson over there too. As we recruit, continue to recruit, the top players it gets more and more athletic, which is exciting.''


Talk about the experience with Price. Hester not so much because if the injury, but with Price …

‘'Well, that's our deficiency at the position. We've got one guy with real experience. That's Sheldon, who really has just his freshman year. We're going to have to grow up fast, and that's why these guys have got to get tested and tested and tested. That's why frankly September is a great month for us because we're going to be tested and we're going to find out if these guys can hold up. But I believe, when you look at guys on the hoof, that's what you're looking for … what's out there.''


Have you ever had such inexperience there, on a team you've coached?

‘'Unfortunately, I've had inexperience before … namely, right here. Not necessarily at that position, but we've dealt with some inexperience issues.''


Have things slowed down from what you were seeing on Thursday, in terms of not hurrying so much?

‘'There's still enough energy out here. We're starting to settle in. It's like getting control. You're still running fast … all of the great sprinters look like they're in total control. That's what we need. We need all the bodies to stay on control, so there's less bodies on the ground, less chance for injury, and when you get better athletes that's what happens.''


How has the tape been looking for practice?

‘'Rough, but still lots of bright spots. I mean, Nate Chandler is a beautiful looking guy at defensive tackle. Christian Ramirez is doing some good things at safety. So, we're seeing some productive things from guys. Morrell Presley is starting to settle in, you know, we're getting some good stuff out of him. We're finding ways to get (Damien) Thigpen into the mix. We want to utilize our athletes. That's what we're trying to do and the things on tape are looking good.''

PRACTICE NOTES

First day in pads and the Bruins opened practice with some hitting, offense versus defense in the middle of the field. There were a couple of good pops in there. …


The defensive players were not the only ones doing the hitting. During a live team period Richard Brehaut threw a poor pass behind his receiver. The ball was tipped up into the air and intercepted by safety Stan McKay. Jonathan Franklin drilled linebacker Sean Westgate behind the play just about the same time Ricky Marvray put a big hit on McKay. …


Marvray continued to impress with his route running and ability to adjust to the ball in the air and make catches in traffic. …


Receiver Jerry Johnson also is making plays out there. He is improved physically and much more of a presence on the field than he has been the past two years. …


Taylor Embree (concussion), Kai Maiava (shoulder) and Joe Fauria (groin) all were held out of practice again. …


Among the recruits in attendance was Dorsey sophomore lineman Jordan Simmons, who will be one of the top prospects in the state in two years. Cornerback Stefan McClure from Vista and outside linebacker Jason Gibson from Serra also were in attendance. …


Derrick Coleman went into the spring as one of the top two running backs, but still is lacking consistency with the oomph that he brings when running the football. …


The offense again did all of their work out of Pistol formations. With Maiava out, the snaps again were an issue. Ryan Taylor and Greg Capella were getting the reps at center. …


Morrell Presley, now playing as an F-back, made a couple of nice blocks and back to back plays. He appears to be taking to the position and the blocking …

MORRELL PRESLEY

You popped a few guys out there today …

‘'Yeah, a couple of them.''


Did it feel good?

‘'Yeah, it felt real good.''


So, with what you're doing now, it would appear to be more comfortable with it compared to everything you were being asked to do last year …

‘'I mean, this time around, I have the hang of things a lot more. It's not so much me going out there and trying to remember where I'm supposed to line up, what play I have to do. I've done it so much now, I'm able to slow the game down and really see the defense, see my route. It's a lot easier for me and I'm a lot more successful than last spring, I think.''


What exactly are they calling the position?

‘'It's F, or F-back. I don't know. I'm all over the place. Coach (Norm) Chow, he has me all over the place. I'm just open to everything he's teaching me and I'm trying to learn fast. That's what they're stressing in there – not being strong or faster than everyone else, just learn fast and play fast, so that's what I'm trying to do.''


F gets you in the slot, into the backfield more …

‘'Slot, outside, backfield, motions. I'm, just trying to be that guy, be a young leader on this team. Where they have me right now, I'm comfortable with it. I really like it, so I've got to keep in shape, keep in the playbook and keep my head right and I think I'll be all right.''


Playing inside in the slot and the backfield, I know there was some concern about your ability to block and stay on the field on every down …

‘'I've put on a couple more pounds and I've been in the weight room a little bit more. I've been blocking a little bit more and they're trying to get a feel for things, see what we can do and what we can't do. I mean, this spring, we're starting off much better than last spring and we have a lot more targets and a lot more things we can get to, so we're just really working as a team.''


Your role in this offense now, you're going to get a lot more opportunities if you can stay out there …

‘'A lot more opportunities ... It's like, defenses can't just key on me at one place, at the slot. If they do that, try to move somebody into man, they'll put me in the backfield and come out of the backfield. I'm just working hard at every aspect of it – slot, outside, backfield, trying to get my game down pat.''


How do you feel you're taking to the physical part of it?

‘'In high school I played tight end so I'm kind of used to being in the trenches with the big dudes, so it's really not coming as a surprise to me. In college, up here, they're a lot faster and a lot bigger, but the physical aspect, if you've got heart, you put your face in there and get to it.''


You did that on back to back plays over here. You could hear those …

‘'I'm trying, man. I'm a little dude out here. I look like a receiver, but I'm going to put my face and nose in there and get in there.''


You're also catching the ball a lot cleaner this spring. Is that just being more comfortable with what you're doing out there?

‘'Yeah, this spring I'm a lot more focused. I don't go to the line of scrimmage and wonder, am I supposed to be here? Am I lined up right? I know that I'm supposed to be here, and then I'm able to focus and get into things a lot better than last spring. I'm a lot more comfortable that I was.''


We talked about that, being able to play the game rather than thinking so much …

‘'Last year, I was thinking so much. I'd go to the slot and be thinking, am I supposed to be in the slot or am I supposed to be outside? Then I'd drop a ball and I'd dwell on that the rest of the day and I'd have a bad day. Now, I'm a lot more mature and I'm able to let more things go and just learn a lot faster than I was before.''


As an offense, do you guys like what you're doing now more than some of the pro-style stuff?

‘'I mean, as of this week, it's successful. Everybody has to get on the same page. It's not something that, if you don't study, you're going to get it. Everybody has to put the dedication and the work into it and if the whole offense puts their head into it, we'll be more explosive. We'll be dominant.''


It looks like it will make you guys a lot more dynamic …

‘'Yeah, we'll get more plays off, we'll play a lot faster and put a couple more points on that board than last year, too.''


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