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October 26, 2011If there is a positive thing to say about the season of 2011 is that the players come to practice and give effort even after a disappointing loss. This was not lost on UCLA head coach Rick Neuheisel and it was the first thing he mentioned when he huddled with the media after Tuesday's practice.
Neuheisel: "It was a spirited day at practice. A kind of cathartic day for us to be back out here and banging a little bit and looking forward to the next contest rather than talking about the disappointment of the last one. I'm excited about the attitude the kinds have taken. Obviously it will be much more meaningful when we see exactly how it parlays into the play on Saturday, but it was a good start for us and I am looking forward to an even better day tomorrow. I like where we have begun the week."
How was Jerry Johnson today?
Neuheisel: "A little rust, but you know, he has fresh legs. I mean he can run. Jerry is a very talented young man who has just been on the shelf for awhile and we're having to dust him off and get him ready to go."
How much can you truly expect from Jerry given the all the time off?
Neuheisel: "If we could get 15 quality plays out of that would be terrific..."
Neuheisel: "He would like it that way, but if we can get 15 plays that would be a great help to us and I think we can get that for him. I know that he is doing everything he can. He made a couple plays today. I know this. They have to cover him and they have to respect that he can run."
You said yesterday that Devin Lucien isn't likely to play. Have you finalize that out?
Neuheisel: "I would say that is accurate. We haven't ruled him out 100 percent. The likelihood is he will not waste his redshirt year."
What about Devin in August made you decide to redshirt him in the first place?
Neuheisel: "We had the luxury of numbers and his inexperience as we went further and further into the playbook, it showed, however we have nothing, but high, high regard for what he is going to bring to the program in the future and I still feel that way strongly.
"The other thing you do is, you want to make sure that you involve family in decisions like this and those conversations. Devin is 100 percent wanting to play, which is what you would expect, but in those conversations, they understand that patience is a virtue."
What kind of impact is losing your receivers from last week and also substituting Richard Brehaut for Kevin Prince have on the effect of the timing and the chemistry?
Neuheisel: "All of those things change the end result. It is our job to make sure they don't change it detrimentally. I mean we have always in football, having to deal with attrition. This is just an unusual amount of attrition at one particular position so we have to figure out exactly how to play the game and how to still have all the things you need as an offense to impact a defense and that's what we are working on, but we have Josh Smith and Nelson Rosario and Jordon James and Anthony Barr should probably practice tomorrow, so we will see where he is. We have enough guys who have made big plays here who can play a complete football game."
You have done a nice job all year bouncing back from tough losses. How big is this game?
Neuheisel: "It's a big game. I mean it is another conference game. It is a home game for our fans and playing California, it's a sister school, is a huge deal every year. They have had our number the last few so it is important that we put together a great effort and see if we can't get out third conference win."
Is Ed Kezerian in this week?
Neuheisel: "I don't know about Ed. I will have to give Eddie, a call. I have had other things on my mind."
Will you have to take Josh Smith off returns to keep his legs fresh?
Neuheisel: "Possibly, we will wait and see. He is certainly a weapon back there, but we also have Jordon James who we believe can do that job and do it well."
How does losing those guys impact the way you call the game defensively?
Neuheisel: "Defense is trying to stop people and try to get off the field. I don't think you can play a different kind of style defensively just because the woes of personnel offensively. I think you just go out there and do what we can to see if corral the Cal offense."
So you don't feel like it effects your aggressiveness at all?
Neuheisel: "No, no, no we are going to play however we deem the appropriate way to play go get them off the field as fast as possible."
Jerry Rice Jr., are you seeing anything out of him that makes you think that he can help?
Neuheisel: "Jerry Rice Jr. has done everything, we have ever asked him to, he just needs an opportunity. Well now he has one and we will see how he does. I'm excited to watch him."
You mention playing Jerry Johnson about 15 plays. What about Jerry Rice Jr.?
Neuheisel: "We will have to see how the game unfolds. You have different personnel groups to combat different things that you expect to see and then the game plays itself out and you see something less or something more and then you have to make your adaptations as the game goes on, but Jerry Rice Jr. will play every play if we ask him to."
How rusty is Johnson? Do you think he may been back this week regardless of the situation?
Neuheisel: "I think he was trying to get back. He has been practicing, each of the last three weeks, and doing some great work on on the scout team. They come and talk to me all the time about what he brings. I think if there was a good time for this opportunity to present itself, I don't know if there is a way to say if there is a good time, but if there was, this is a great opportunity for Jerry."
Tony Dye has kind of bounced between questionable and...
Neuheisel: "Tony is down."
For the rest of the season?
Neuheisel: "I would say."
Has there been a diagnosis?
Neuheisel: "I'm just telling you my feelings on the issue. Tony and his family, will continue to look for maybe another way, but I just don't see Tony...I don't see it a prudent thing to do. I think he has to get himself 100 percent healthy and hopefully come back and play for us next year."
When does that kind of stuff start? Petitions and all that kind of stuff...
Neuheisel: "It is well documented that he can't play. There are medical reasons. The petitions and all that handle themselves."
Do you foresee playing Brett Hundley outside of an injury situation?
Neuheisel: "My cards are close to my vest. I know I am getting Brett Hundley ready and certainly we will need him if there is an injury to occur. Knock on wood that isn't the case, but he is also available if we need him in another capacity. I'm not going to commit saying that I'm doing that. I just need to make sure he is ready."