Despite win, coach admits to blunders
By Sara Salam
Nov. 9, 2009 9:16 p.m.
Five different Bruins caught six Kevin Prince completions during UCLA’s first series on Saturday, with the passes averaging over 15 yards during that touchdown drive.
Coach Rick Neuheisel liked that.
The Bruin football team also managed to fumble the ball six times ““ three resulting in turnovers. UCLA has mishandled 26 balls in nine games this season.
Neuheisel found that statistic a bit unsettling.
During Monday’s press conference, Neuheisel both commended and critiqued his team’s 24-23 victory over Washington. The Bruins will travel to Pullman, Wash. this weekend to face the Washington State Cougars in their 10th game of the season.
Inconsistencies, mostly in the form of ball security and gap assignments, will be key areas of focus heading into Washington State game week.
“The turnover margin has been good for us, but it reared its ugly head this weekend,” Neuheisel said, “Thus we have to go back and make it a point of emphasis.”
Despite the Bruins’ somewhat messy performance at the Rose Bowl, Neuheisel witnessed traces of prowess in his team’s play. He said this spark self-ignited in the aftermath of suffering a final-minutes loss to Oregon State the previous week.
“It was without question our best week of practice last week as an offense,” Neuheisel said, “which stemmed in my mind from the confidence that surged in the fourth quarter in Corvallis.”
A key force in that surge lies in the ball-cradling ability and quick feet of sophomore Nelson Rosario.
A few weeks ago, before the OSU road trip, Rosario practiced with the scout team.
He’s now coming off his second straight game with over 100 total yards to his name. In those two games, he reeled in 13 catches for 263 yards.
Rosario is UCLA’s first wide receiver to record over 100 yards in consecutive games since Craig Bragg in 2003.
At the Stanford game earlier this year, Neuheisel introduced Rosario to former UCLA wide receiver J.J. Stokes, hoping to give the young sophomore a look into the possibilities of what he could become.
“I told (Stokes) this is the guy who I think could be the next you. Hopefully we can have this kind of emergence on a weekly basis,” Neuheisel said.
Saturday’s showing demonstrated the offense’s ability to share the ball and spread touches among multiple players wearing the blue and gold.
“Not only do you make the defense wonder where the next ball is going but you also create a lot of guys into the action,” Neuheisel said. “The more we can spread the ball the better our offense becomes.”
The Bruins garnered 455 yards of total offense versus the Huskies. UCLA has thrown for over 300 yards in consecutive games for the first time since contests versus Rice and Oklahoma in 2005.
UCLA looks to continue its “streak of one” as they ready themselves for the harsh, inclement weather of Pullman.
The Bruins haven’t managed back-to-back wins against Pac-10 opponents since Sept. 2007 when they defeated Washington at home, followed by OSU in Corvallis.
“We’re in the business of looking to the next task at hand, that’s what makes (Washington State) the biggest game of the year.”
QUICK HITS: There are zero complications regarding Prince’s concussion, Neuheisel reported. Prince has been cleared to participate in non-contact practice today. … Jerzy Siewierski (foot) should be back to practice in some capacity this week. … Morrell Presley is still down with an AC sprain. … Randall Carroll (groin) should be ready to go. … Ryan Tayloris nursing a foot sprain, suffered during the first series of the Washington game. … Aaron Hester (right leg) will practice this week.