Rick Neuheisel's opening statement
‘'Another good, crisp, practice. These are all great opportunities. We've got great teaching tape, opportunities for guys to learn, and the message is loud and clear to these kids that, when you think you know it, you have to keep working at it, because something is going to happen that you're not going to understand and if you keep imagining all of the different scenarios, you'll be that much further ahead and it will display itself on the field.
''Looking forward to tomorrow night. Looking forward to all these guys getting a chance to be off their legs in the morning and get after it a little bit in the evening and see if we can't have some fun, and then give them a day off on Sunday and get back after it on Monday.
‘'That's the plan. Hopefully we're going to get a bunch of people to come out to Drake Stadium to watch us. I would appreciate it if everybody would leave their video cameras home, just come and have fun. That would be neat because obviously things get on YouTube and all that and we're trying to get our team ready to play and so forth. But people will do what they're going to do.
‘'But, we're very excited about where we are in the deal. Hopefully, we'll get these guys healthy in the early part of next week an d we'll be on schedule for that opener in Manhattan, Kansas.''
Can you talk about Kevin McDermott?
‘'Kevin has been outstanding. You know, you start thinking about where you would be without him. We've got two tight ends down with John Young and Joe Fauria, so there's Kevin, Johnny on the spot, and he's done unbelievably well and he's also very reliable as a snapper. I think he's earning his keep, there's no question about it.''
What is it you'd like (Richard) Brehaut to show you tomorrow night?
‘'Just be comfortable, play within himself. Not very play is going to be called perfectly or be just what we want. He's just got to take care of the ball, handle the line of scrimmage and if we punt we punt, but let's not turn it over. That's the key.''
Are there still moments where he still has that uncomfortable look, or that I've got to make something happen right now thing?
‘'Where the wires get crossed, yeah, sometimes. But that's natural. Remember, we're pushing this along faster than in years past quarterbacks used to get pushed. And we're doing it now with a different offense than he did it a year ago. I'm pleased with Richard. I think he's come miles since we got started in camp. I wish that we had Kevin Prince healthy and ready and going, all of that stuff, but you know, while he nurses himself back to health, we are getting the opportunity to get Richard a lot of experience and hopefully gain some confidence. Hopefully tomorrow night will be another step toward that.''
What are you looking for from that ‘F' back position. Is it running, blocking …
‘'It does everything. It needs to be a very tough, athletic, player. I think we're really blessed to have the three guys that we have doing it, and Damien Thigpen can always come back over and help us there, too. So, we'll continue to look at ways to use all those guys. But they have to be able to block first and then make plays when given the opportunity.''
Are there still position evaluations going into …
‘'Oh, absolutely … absolutely. You make assumptions, based on the two weeks of work that we've had, but your assumptions can either be confirmed or dashed when you get them out there without the coaches out there and so we'll find out a lot about ourselves tomorrow night.
‘'Your competition is never over. We want people to compete on an everyday basis. But certainly we'll know more about our team after tomorrow night.''
Quarterback Kevin Prince did some individual work in the afternoon session, but no throwing. After a morning practice where he added some velocity on his throws, they did not want to push.
The team periods had some poor interceptions, including one where Brehaut threw a pass right to Aaron Hester. Brehaut also missed Randall Carroll on a deep ball, throwing late and allowing cornerback Sheldon Price to recover and make a play on the ball.
Freshman Chris Ward got some reps with the No. 2 offense at left tackle. Sean Sheller remains with the No. 1 offense there, in the absence of Jeff Baca. Baca still is on crutches with the stress reaction.
Love came back and made a nice play to pick off a Bell pass that was intended for Christian Ramirez.
The Bruins' offense struggled in the two-minute period at the end of practice. They gave it three shots, two with the No. 1 offense, and did not come all that close to field goal position. In the first series with the 1s, Brehaut had a pass batted at the line by Love, missed Taylor Embree and after a sack missed Nelson Rosario. On the first play of the second series, Brehaut threw high and behind Anthony Barr, came back to hit tight end Cory Harkey for a first down, but that was it for the forward progress.
OK, I've got to ask, Anthony Jefferson, you think you might go easy on him once this camp?
‘'No, not at all. I don't take it easy against on anybody. I figure if you're lined up against me, you're going to get the best of me and it doesn't matter who you are.''
The best of you is looking pretty good right now …
‘'Yeah, I'm just trying to stay consistent. The biggest thing is consistency and, you know, coming out here every day and doing the same thing, making the big catches, knowing what I'm doing and that's about it.''
The double days, the length of camp, that's got to be a pretty good test of that consistency, that focus and concentration right now …
‘'Yeah, and at this point in double days it's all mental. The first week, you've got fresh legs, you know, you're flying around and making a lot of plays. Then the second week, you know, your legs don't feel the same, they're sore. That's when it's a mental grind. As long as you come out to practice every day knowing I've just got to push through it mentally, that it's 90 percent mental, you'll be good.''
How much more advanced are you right now than the end of the spring?
‘'I think I'm a completely different player altogether – mindset, route running, hands, all of that. I did a lot of work over the summer hooking up with the quarterbacks, working on my routes, working on my steps and counting my steps, opening up my stride on my go routes. That's how I'm able to get own the field a little quicker this year, I believe.''
That's a lot of work coming together …
‘'Oh, yeah. There's always things you can work on. I just got off the Juggs machine right now, because your hands, as good as you think they are, can always be better. I make a vow every day to go perfect, as perfect as I can, catching the ball. I don't want to be labeled as any specific type of receiver – possession, deep ball threat – I just want to be known as a guy who catches the ball.''
This obviously is a deep receiving corps. Do you have expectations, what you feel you need out of this year, on a personal level?
‘'Absolutely. I don't only have expectations for myself, I have expectations for our receiving corps as a group. We have great speed in my boy Josh Smith. He's going to be able to get down the field for us. He's going to be able to get down the field for a couple of 60, 80 yard bombs, then when the defense starts to concentrate on that, they're looking at me underneath. Then they're hitting Randall deep, you know what I mean? Then they're hitting Nelson deep. Then they're hitting Taylor underneath. There are too many options this year in the passing game, so I feel like if we exploit every one of those, we'll all do good. But as far as myself, expectations, I don't really have any. I just expect to go out there and know what I'm doing. That's about the only thing. That and make plays. You can't expect anything in this game, you've just got to work hard and hope for the best.''
In hindsight now, with the year behind you, I know not playing last year was really tough, but how beneficial was that year to your development?
‘'It's been very beneficial. I feel the redshirt year, as gruesome as it was for me, it was the best thing for me at the time. Mentally, I can't tell the past or the future, but I think it was a good thing for me to get redshirted, because who's to say I would have got in there and known my assignments? Who's to say I would have been ready physically? A year later, I'm a little faster, a little stronger, I know the playbook. So, I think I've set myself up better this year to be successful.''
Other than the Juggs, do you do any other hands exercise, hand-eye drills?
‘'Whether it be in between classes or just walking around, I always keep a football on me and me and Josh, we just throw it back and forth to each other … walking, talking, just working on our hands. On our way to practice today, we walked from his apartment, the whole way we were just throwing the ball. We were in the middle of the street, playing around, working on our hands. We're playing, but we're serious, too. We're always working on our craft.''
Middle of the street? You know those cars hit pretty hard …
‘'Yeah, they do. But we make sure there's none ion the way and if there are then we try to jump over them and make a nice catch, you know what I mean?''