Sunday Scrimmage Report/Interviews

UCLA holds its first extended live scrimmage of the spring, and coach Rick Neuheisel comes away enthusiastic, commenting that two players in particular made impressions. We also spoke with Offensive Coordinator Norm Chow and senior safety Christian Ramirez...

Rick Neuheisel's 0pening statement:

‘'Obviously, when you get about 75 plays of scrimmage and have very few nicks, that's terrific work. There are a lot of things that still need to get fixed, but I see progress, see a lot of young players step to the fore. Patrick Larimore is making all kinds of plays. He comes to mind. Joseph Fauria looks to be a weapon for us. I'm pleased with where we are, but we have to get a lot more work done in the second half and if we can improve just a little bit more than we did in the first half we'll be right where we need to be at the conclusion of this spring football.''


Who won today?

‘'You know, I don't know. I'll have to check the film. Obviously, I usually watch it during the course of the game from an offensive standpoint and there were some good things, but certainly not the level of consistency that we need. And then I'll watch it from the defensive standpoint tonight. It was pretty even. There were a lot of good plays. I'm looking more for individuals right now.''


Richard Brehaut or Nick Crissman, are you seeing what you want out of them?

‘'Still inconsistent, but there's hope and we're excited about finding more and more out about them."


How is Joe? It seemed like he pulled up after that touchdown catch …

‘'I think he's fine. You know, I think he just likes to look hurt. Nah, I really do think he's fine. I was kidding … you didn't see that touchdown in the 7-on-7 where he went and did that squirrel dance or whatever it was? So, I think he's good.''


How much do you think the defense has stepped up because the offense has been having success?

‘'Well, that always is what raises the level of play, whenever somebody has success and the other side of the ball answers. That's how you develop a team. That's why spring ball is fun, because you're always practicing against each other.''


You like the rivalry that's developing?

‘'Yeah, that's the way it should be. And eventually, we're going to get to where both sides can have success on the same day, when we get to the regular season.''


Is it harder to gauge that success, of either unit, because the defense, they see the offense every day, plus they're trying to work in a new system?

‘'Schematically, we want to see where we are, but more importantly, I want to see individuals rise to the occasion so that we can create the depth necessary to be successful.''


Are you happy with the progress, with what you're getting out of the new system so far?

‘'Yeah, I am. I see a definite benefit to it. We'll really evaluate it here tonight and tomorrow and then see exactly how we proceed as we go into the second half.''

SCRIMMAGE NOTES

The offense made some plays and was working at a nice tempo, but they were hurt by some self-inflicted wounds, particularly early. Cory Harkey was called for false starts twice, which is something that popped up out of nowhere for the tight end. The offense also had an ineligible receiver down field on an ugly but completed pass from Kevin Prince to Taylor Embree. …

There were a lot of recruits in attendance (but, again, no Westwood Bob sighting). Crenshaw running back/cornerback DeAnthony Thomas was at Spaulding Field, though. Also in attendance were defensive lineman Todd Barr from Lakewood, receiver Victor Blackwell and quarterback Max Wittek from Mater Dei, outside linebackers Jason Gibson and Woodson Greer from Serra, tight end Troy Niklas from Servite, defensive end Charles Burks from Huntington Beach Edison and quarterback Trevor Gretzky from Oaks Christian, among others. …

Here are the stats:

Passing – Prince 8 of 9, 84 yards with two touchdowns (32 yards to Rosario, 10 yards to Fauria); Brehaut 3 of 11, 21 yards; Crissman 3 of 6, 16 yards.

Rushing – Franklin 9 for 44 yards; Coleman 8 for 19; Prince 5 for 13; Knox 5 for 8.

Receiving – Rosario 3 for 42 and one touchdown; Embree 3 for 37; Moutra 3 for 12; Presley 2 for 10; Harkey 1 for 11; Fauria 1 for 10 and one touchdown.

Sacks – Tepa 2; Graham 1; Larimore 1; Koster 1; Jones 1; Carter 0.5; Love 0.5.

Taylor Embree handled the punt returns and fielded the ball well under some difficult conditions, with the wind. …

Ricky Marvray dropped a pass that hit him right in the hands – don't often see that. …

The defense was flying around pretty good. Patrick Larimore started with the No. 2 defense at the Mike, but was with the No. 1s on the next series and is a presence. Christian Ramirez made some nice hits from the safety spot. Iuta Tepa, much thicker than he was a year ago, made some nice plays. …

Brehaut had a poor sequence where he threw a little wide to Damien Thigpen, high and behind Marvray and behind Jerry Johnson on first, second and third downs. …

Running backs coach Wayne Moses said before the spring that he wanted to see more from Derrick Coleman this spring. He has had his moments, but still seems tentative at times with the ball. …

The touchdown reception by Fauria was a play that only he can make, at 6-foot-7. Prince threw the ball high in the back of the end zone, and he went up and made the play. …

Nelson Rosario had a nice catch and run on the touchdown and this spring is competing with a consistency that would have been hard to imagine he could achieve, watching him the past two years. …

Comments from CHRISTIAN RAMIREZ.


That transition seems to be going pretty well for you …

‘'Yeah, I just came out here wanting to do something, wanting to play. I just want to have fun right now and it showed today.''


Do you think you can see the field at safety?

‘'I don't know. I'm not sure, to be honest. All I know is I'm going to come out here and do what I can and let the coaches decide. They say they don't choose who lines up on Saturday's, it's the people who show up on the practice field and that's all I can do right now.''


Where do you feel like you are within the defense, with all of the schemes and everything?

‘'I felt like I was struggling a little bit at first, but I've had some extra meeting time with the coaches up there and it helped me out today. I knew where I was. I knew what to do. I knew where to be.''


How much of that extra stuff are you doing?

‘'I'm there whenever I have time between classes. I mean, I meet up with the coaches a couple of times a week, whenever they have time and are not in meetings and when I'm not in class.''


Defense, learning it is quite a bit different than what you had been doing …

‘'Yeah, you have to know more about the offense than you do about the defense. You know, you have to know where to go based off of formations.''


Well, you're obviously not shy about hitting people …

‘'No, that was fun. That brought back a lot of memories.''

Comments from KEVIN PRINCE


So, how is your sliding going?

‘'Work in progress. I mean, in practice we don't slide so it's a little different. But, yeah, that's something … I can't afford to get hurt again. Concussions and broken jaws, that's freshman year stuff. It's going to have to develop.''


When you look at the kinks, the things that didn't work right today, are they mostly minor or are there things where you have to go back and …

‘'I think a little bit of both. I think there is things that will get better over time. Like I mentioned, the mechanics of it all, it will start to become natural to us. But there are some things that we messed up scheme-wise whether it be blocking, whether it be my reads or something like that. There's stuff that we still need to fix and we'll watch film tomorrow and make sure we fix those things immediately. There were certain things that we messed up that are things that we've been running for two years now. We still have to work those things out.''


There seems to be a little more consistency with the 1s than with the 2s. Is that just a matter of more time, more reps?

‘'I think it's just a matter of the continuity that we have together, with the amount of reps. I think it has to do with reps in practice and the maturity of the first string. There's definitely more, I don't know if we have any real veteran guys, but we have guys that have played and I think that shows in the first string. I think we're used to it, and we're getting a better flow together as an offense.''


How did you feel about today?

‘'I thought it went well. I think it was a little slow at the start because of the new offense. There's a different flow to the game, the mechanics of it all, you know, caused a few penalties and stuff like that. But after we got it figured out and started getting it rolling and getting in the flow of everything, I though t it went well. It's a good starting point for the first scrimmage.''


NORM CHOW


How did we do today?

‘'It was fine, fine. It started out slow for some reason. Everything started slow. But once we got rolling, I thought we did all right. You know, the first drive we took, we thought we were going to be OK, and we preached to them, nobody can stop us but ourselves, and sure enough, we get whatever penalties we had, because we were moving the ball. It was OK. Right in the middle got kind of crazy trying different things. We'll wait to see the tape, but it was OK.''


Playing faster doesn't really work if you keep getting those 5-yard penalties to slow you down …

‘'Yeah, that always makes that hard. It was silly kind of stuff. And, we preached it, that this is just a game like you practice. Harkey hasn't been offsides all year long and he goes twice. So, we just have to get all of that stuff squared away. That comes with maturity and experience and that's what we're struggling with.''


Some of these guys have been playing for two years, though …

‘'Yeah, but you look at Harkey, he has, but he's only a junior. Where's the senior leadership? But, hey, we're not going to make excuses. No excuses.''


How do you like Kevin in the new offense?

‘'Kevin is doing a good job. Kevin is doing a real nice job. I've got to get Richard up to speed and the other guys up to speed, but so far so good.''


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