August 23, 2008

Defense still crisp

Friday Evening's practice wasn't one of this young team's better efforts, but as has been the case since the spring, the correction is made on the spot, not after viewing tape. It is hard to say why this particular practice lacked focus, but after the practice, UCLA head coach Rick Neuheisel offered an explanation.

Neuheisel: "As expected when you take the pads off or change the tempo or a practice, you don't get quite the same amount of concentration that you had the day before and that was the case at least offensively.

"Defensively I thought we were crisp again and that's a good thing, but through the special teams period through offense we were not as sharp as we were a day ago and I attribute that to relaxing a little bit because I have taken the pads off.

"We have got to be more mature than that and have the ability to concentrate even though we're limiting the physical exposure to guys so hopefully that is a lesson that we'll learn. We're going to need to learn to get pads off and still go fast as the season progresses and people start to get a little wear and tear on him and still have great concentration so hopefully the kids learned a lesson today."

Talk about the injury bug coach…

Neuheisel: "Well it is part of football. I think probably every coach is being asked the same question and all you do is you say you're working through it and it gives someone else an opportunity and it creates depth and all those things.

"All you can do is remain positive and hopeful that both, one the guys will be back shortly and two the guys who are called upon respond to the challenge."

Are you guys trying to focus on being a defensive squad this year?

Neuheisel: "We want to be a good offense, too, it's just right now we have a little bit of a head start on defense."

Do you have a better idea when Micah Kia is going to start participating again?

Neuheisel: "My hope is sometime early next week. He did a bunch of the walk through stuff today. It's all going to be a pain tolerance thing and he's a tough guy so I believe he will be ready."

Is Kia going to have his fingers set like that the whole time?

Neuheisel: "It depends on how much it has healed as the week goes on. If the healing is showing they can reduce the size of the cast. At least that's what I've been told."

When will they look at it again?

Neuheisel: "I think they are going to x-ray it either Monday or Tuesday."

Do they just add padding to the cast?

Neuheisel: "In terms of having him play, yes the cast can't be exposed, you have to put a pad around it so it will look like Clubber Lang out there."

Will Mike Harris be back on Monday as planned?

Neuheisel: "Hopefully, now I do not know that he's going to be fully ready to go, but we keep pushing , pushing and hopefully…remember Monday is not a normal Monday for a Saturday game. Monday really is Saturday if we can get him back by Wednesday then we will have normal week."

What was being said in that team huddle after practice? You guys were there for quite awhile…

Neuheisel: "I could tell you, but I would have to kill you, (laughs) no, we were just talking about the ability to concentrate when we have taken the pads off. Not only in terms of now, but making sure you are preparing for practice in the same way that you would a padded practice."

Did every offensive linemen take a rep with the ones today? There was a lot of mixing and matching…

Neuheisel: "We going to do a little mixing and matching. We are going to find a way to get the best five."

Are you closer to getting to the best five?

Neuheisel: "We will know more after tomorrow."

b>Can you talk about Micah Reed

Neuheisel: "Micah is a gifted center. A guy who is growing into the position given that this is first year of starting at it and I believe that Micah (Reed) will be a great leader for our offensive line."

Rahim Moore, starting as a freshman, is he ready to step up?

Neuheisel: "Rahim Moore is a freshman safety, he's been terrific. We're very excited that he's here and I expect big things from him, not only early in his career, but also throughout."

Who would you say that you are pretty confident will start on the offensive line?

Neuheisel: "Micah Reed is in. Knock on wood, he's available. Nick Ekbatani will be starting somewhere, he'll be in that group and then we will keep waiting to see who the next best three are."

I don't want to start the overly concerned stuff again…

Neuheisel: "I thought we passed overly concerned…"

But were you hoping to see Kevin Craft smoothing out a little bit more? It still seems like there a lot of balls being picked…

Neuheisel: "I don't know what, this was not a good day for Kevin. This was the first day in awhile that In thought he took a step back. I don't know what it was maybe something confused him today, but we're going to need him for us to be more consistent than he was today."

Did you install anything different today?

Neuheisel: "There were a couple of things, but nothing that should have caused him to not be as consistent as he's been."

As a coach does that concern you or…

Neuheisel: "That's like starting pitcher who has a clunker. I hope that it's just an aberration and hope that tomorrow, he gets back to where he's been, which is fairly consistent."

Do you anticipate using Aundre Dean early on particularly?

Neuheisel: "That is a game decision. We're going to have him in the mix, he's going to be ready to go in, but just like I do with quarterbacks, I don't necessarily prescribe that he's going to get carries in that first game. I know that he will be ready, he'll be eager, but we'll wait and see the situation."

What will be the rotation?

Neuheisel: "There will probably be a rotation of maybe the first three, I think the fourth guy will be maybe more of an emergency or we have an opportunity here, let's take a look."

The first three are Kahlil Bell, Raymond Carter and…?

Neuheisel: "Chane Moline…"

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