UCLA head coach Rick Neuheisel may have been a bit under the weather, but his spirit was still soaring high after his team's victory last Saturday Night. As always, Neuheisel met with the media after practice to catch up with everything going on with his program.
Neuheisel: "Dealing with a little bit of a cold. Obviously good to be back out with our team. A good day of work, considering what the week really needs to be, which is a return to basics. A return to fundamental play. There's a number of players that are going to get crash courses, if you well, to make sure that they are ready for the second half of our season.
Brett Hundley would be a guy in that category and then there's just about making sure we have the inventory offensively, defensively and special teams to be able to compete and compete successfully in what promises to be an exciting second half of the season starting in Tucson, so we did not game plan for Arizona today. It was more of a day to just make sure that we're building what we need from an attitude standpoint and from an inventory standpoint for the second half."
How close is Brett being ready to play?
Neuheisel: "I will know more this time next week, but I feel like given the situation how he looks to the future and how it all stacks up, I think he'll be ready. I think his urgency will go up exponentially."
How about Mike Stoops getting released. Does that change anything preparation wise?
Neuheisel: "It is one of those things that as a coach you are saddened by because I know Mike and I admire Mike and I wish him well. I also know that he gave a lot of his heart and soul to that University.
"That being said, I also know that team will respond in a favorable way, in the way that they should, meaning that they will come out and they will play as hard as they can.
"Whenever there is a change regardless of the reasons why. There is always kind of a fresh start and they will feel like this is a fresh start. From that standpoint you just know they are going to have a lot of energy when they step onto the field and we have to match that. We have every bit the same reason for energy to be high. We have to understand that and look forward to that kind of contest."
Does that make the preparation a little bit of a wild card in terms of there might be some tinkering with what they have been doing?
Neuheisel: "Certainly there could be some tinkering because if there were things that coaches wanted to do, but were not allowed to because of Mike's wishes. Those are no longer there so that can happen and they have extra time to get it accomplished, but I don't know how you can prepare for that other than you just get ready to play and make adjustments as they occur during the course of a game."
What are some of the key fundamentals during the bye week that you are going to work on to improve?
Neuheisel: "Offensively, we want to make sure that we've got all the equipment necessary from the running and passing game. We have to get Kevin Prince back up to speed. We have to get Brett Hundley caught up and we have to have balance in our offense as well as the ability to continue to run the ball successfully.
"Defensively, we have to do a better job of stopping the run. Now this team (Arizona), has not shown a propensity for that being something really excited about, but they have ran the ball against us in the past. They did a great job against us a year ago running the football and so we have to be prepared for that, but ultimately the third down defense is where we got to make the big stride in the second half of the season."
At the beginning of the season there was a big focus of having a balanced offense. How happy are you with halfway through the season?
Neuheisel: "I'm happy. I look at the stats and we're last in the conference in passing, but we're right at 200 yards a game. This is a very pass happy conference. There was a long time ago when 200 yards would have been right in the middle of the conference, but our yards per attempt are way up than they were a year ago, so we are getting what we want from the passing game.
"This last game was the first time in a long time that somebody controlled the clock on us. Washington State did a good job of that. We were fortunate to find ways to victory, but we've got to have balance. We have to do what the defense is telling us to do by the way that they play us."
Neuheisel: "We are trying to just rest him up and see if whatever is ailing him can subside and ultimately we will make a decision next week as to where he is and what his future is as respect to this season."
Neuheisel: "As I have been told, it was a clean break, so there is every reason to think that he could make it back. Knowing his history of healing quickly, I wouldn't be shocked to see back before too long goes by."
Neuheisel: "Good, he's a good player. We have always thought so. It is about consistency for him and we are going to work his tail off so that we can expect consistency on Saturdays."
When a guy as three interceptions like that is that something that you pinpoint every single mistake or do you push that away?
Neuheisel: "Both, the answer is you want to learn from it, but you want to file it away so it doesn't become a burden. It doesn't become baggage that you are carrying around with you. Ultimately Kevin has to relax and throw and not aim.
"There is a great line in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid where the guy, Robert Redford, can't hit anything and he looks at the guy and says, 'can I move' and all of a sudden he hits the target 15 times in a row or what have you and it is because he is not thinking and really that's what we have to get Kevin to do. Not think about should I, shouldn't I, just throw, trust your reads."
Do you think that Kevin's over thinking has anything to do with Richard being over his shoulder the whole time?
Neuheisel: "I don't think so. I don't think that Kevin shied away from the competition. I really didn't. Kevin wants to succeed as bad as anybody. I just think that Kevin needs to relax and play and we are going to work his tail off so that he doesn't have anything else to think about, except let's just go."
Does the situation that you need to get your quarterbacks more time now, does that kind of affect how you structure the practices this week? How much does it influence?
Neuheisel: "A little bit in terms of how we go about what drills. You know this last period of practice where we did pass under pressure against our own defense was maybe the best drill of the day because it is live action or at least it is close to live action as we can manufacture without having bodies all over the field and it also makes guys make decisions with respect to reads and so forth. Those are all terrific learning lessons, especially for the youngster (Hundley)."