Practice Notes, Quotes & Neuheisel

UCLA had its second practice of the day Monday, and Rick Neuheisel said the team was more focused and definitely improving. Darius Bell told us that he's sleeping with his playbook...

Opening statement

‘'Good practice. Crisp. It's what I looked forward to. Much better than this morning in terms of the enthusiasm, which is what we hoped for. We coached it and got what we wanted, which is always a good sign. And we're getting better. Just need to gets guys back and healthy.''


Any word on Jeff Baca's appeal to the NCAA yet?

‘'No, but all I can tell you is pending, and hopefully soon.''


How about Anthony Jefferson's clearinghouse issues?

‘'Not yet. But we feel good about the case and so we'll hope for good news here shortly.''


Nate Chandler has had about a week over there … how is he looking?

‘'Doing good. Now, it's a transition to go from the inside position to the outside position, but all of us are getting better. We just are. This many snaps and this many go-rounds is good for you. We'll scrimmage a little bit again tomorrow afternoon, get in the red zone and another 20 to 30 plays, something like that.''


Where is Darius Bell and Richard Brehaut right now?

‘'Well, undetermined. I would say that Richard is ahead right now. But Darius had a great morning and Norm wanted to give him a few more shots today. It's great to have that kind of competition and we'll see what that leads to on Saturday night.''


His ability to make something out of nothing, can you talk a little more about that?

‘'You know, when we recruited him, we knew that he had the ability to run with the football, and now the question is what could be do as a passer. And, so, we're exploring that. We're getting there. And he made some good throws this morning and this afternoon.''


Does he seem better throwing the ball when he's improvising?

‘'Like the Sundance Kid, right? Cam I move? You're exactly right.''


I'm old enough I get that reference …

‘'You get that, nice job. … Raindrops keep falling on your head. But, you know, he's not real tall so he kind of hops to see. So when he's out moving he doesn't have any worries about vision.''


I thought also, maybe, that he's trying to learn this offense and pick it up and when he's out there on his own he's freelancing and might have a comfort zone there …

‘'You might be exactly right. Your hypothesis is as good as mine.''


Do you expect anyone back tomorrow, in particular?

‘'You know, hopefully we're a day closer with Josh Smith. Hopefully we get some good news with Cory Harkey and Stan McKay. Kevin Prince, love to see him get some more. We've just got to keep going.''


Aramide Olaniyan?

‘'Aramide was in today, this morning. He's in that position where's not going to get a lot of reps anyway because we're a full team, but, no, I think he'll be fine.''


With Smith, do you have to be cautious bringing him back?

‘'You know, there's certainly part of you that wants to be cautious and make sure you've got him for the deal. But he also has to learn. He hasn't played. So we've got to get him going. He's got to eventually get out here, and I know he wants to. It's not a willingness issue, it's freedom to go get it done.''


Randall Carroll had a couple of muffed punts today. Is that an issue trying to maybe do too much or too much on his plate?

‘'He's a guy trying to earn a position there and until he's reliable he obviously can't have that position. But he certainly has the resume to be a punt returner with his speed and his ability. But it's an interesting skill. It takes a while to learn it.''


PRACTICE NOTES

Kevin Prince went through some individual drills and then did some light throwing for about five minutes. That was followed up by throwing some short routes to Jerry Johnson. Prince, who has not practiced since Tuesday because of an oblique strain, didn't give it a thumbs-up afterward. He gave it a thumbs-at-a-45-degree angle in its way up, though.

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Damien Thigpen, who had moved to cornerback, was back in a white jersey and working as an ‘F' back in the afternoon. With the injuries to Cory Harkey (concussion) and Joseph Fauria (groin), Morrell Presley is likely to move back to tight end, creating an opening at ‘F.'

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Safety Stan McKay, who is not expected to clear his concussion protocols until Tuesday, tried sneaking on to the field with his helmet twice. He was turned away both times.

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Freshman linebacker Aramide Olaniyan (ankle), freshman defensive tackle Cassius Marsh (groin) and defensive lineman Wesley Flowers (back) were able to do some work.

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Mike linebacker Patrick Larimore remains out with a hamstring strain.

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Quarterback Darius Bell did some individual work as an ‘F,' as well. Offensive coordinator Norm Chow has toyed with the idea of having Prince and Bell on the field at the same time.

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5-foot-8 cornerback Courtney Viney made a nice play against 6-foot-5 receiver Nelson Rosario, knocking the ball away on a high fade in the corner of the end zone in team.

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Anthony Barr continues to have a strong camp at the ‘F.' He made a nice catch on a deep ball against Andrew Abbott and Dalton Hilliard.

DARIUS BELL

Had a nice practice this morning. Are things starting to come together a little bit?

‘'Oh, yeah. You know, not having spring ball, having the last game I played being in December, the last team environment I've been in being in December, the game was kind if fast last week. Now that I've got everything down … part of the reason you make mistakes is when you're thinking about what you're supposed to do. But when you know what you're supposed to do when you go in, that limits the mistakes that you do make. Just being prepared, the game is slowing down and as I keep getting further and further along it's just making it that much easier for me.''


How much extra work are you doing to catch up? I mean, you're here, then you go into meetings …

‘'I sleep with my playbook. I fall asleep with it in my lap. Like you said, these guys have been here and they've been here when the offense was installed and they've been here for a lot longer than I have. I started behind the 8-ball. I'm just trying to get in the playbook as much as I can. We already have football basically 7 to 10 at night, so the room I do have, it's definitely dedicated to that playbook and getting better for myself and for the team.''


What in there is the closest to what it needs to be?

‘'Probably like the checks and stuff. Learning the plays is pretty hard, but then learning what to check to, what's the right check, and then learning who your third and fourth receivers are is probably the hardest thing. As a quarterback, there are things to study all over. Probably 70 percent of the plays don't work out like they're supposed to and when you're taught a play, you know, they always tell you this is the guy to look for and you remember that guy, but you always have a hard time remembering who is after that guy and who is after that guy. Definitely, the part that I look to in my playbook is who is just looking at who is the secondary and third receivers and my check-downs and stuff like that because at the end of the day, like I said, the plays aren't always going to work like they're supposed to. A lot of times they're not, and you've got to look to that fourth guy, that third guy, the guy that's now supposed to get the ball when it's drawn up. That's probably what I look for most right now.

‘'When I came out here the first couple of days, I had a good sense of the playbook but I wasn't confident and when you're not confident, you think and when you play quarterback if you over-think, that leads to mistakes. So, just basically, knowing the playbook and getting into it every day so when I step onto that field I'm confident. It makes a lot of difference.''


The route running, the walk-through at the ‘F' that you did, does that throw you off a little?

‘'Oh, no. They told me that was a possibility when I came here and like I said earlier, I'm here to help the team win, and if that means playing ‘F' a couple of series or playing quarterback a couple of series, I'm completely fine with that. I think I am talented enough to play ‘F;' or play quarterback. It's just whatever they need. I told someone they other day, if they need me to play guard I'll bulk up and go out there and try to play guard. Whatever this team needs I'm fine with it. I'm just trying to get on the field and help this team win, because I think we have something special this year and I'm trying to contribute to that.''


Are you starting to see some of the possibilities of having the two of you on the field at the same time?

‘'Definitely. As you know Kevin is hurt so they haven't really put us in the game at the same time, but definitely. How hard would it be to stop a team that has two guys who can run, can routes and throw the ball? I mean, the possibilities are endless, and having a guy like Coach (Norm) Chow, you know what I'm saying, whatever he tells you, why even question it? He tells me to get into ‘F' and I don't question it because he's probably the greatest assistant coach, the greatest offensive mind, of all time. Believing in the coaches, believing in what they're trying to install, buying into it, and them just going out there and doing whatever the team needs is what I'm all about.''


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