UCLA football: Neuheisel hopes Bruins won’t go over the wall
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If UCLA football players take only one thing away from their meeting with Coach Rick Neuheisel today, it’s to keep their feet on the ground. “There can be no ‘over the wall’ this spring,” Neuheisel said. “It absolutely has to be 15 practices where we let the fur fly.”
Spring practice begins Thursday, and Neuheisel made it clear that the Bruins’ quasi-tradition of going over the wall to skip one practice will no longer be acceptable.
But heading into his third spring practice, Neuheisel is stuck on the theme of expectations. The Bruins’ 7-6 record and an appearance in EagleBank Bowl will only raise the bar, Neuheisel said.
“We created a little higher expectation level among our constituency,” Neuheisel said.
The “over the wall day” has made appearances twice in his time as coach, in spring practice two years ago and again during preparations for the EagleBank Bowl in December.
In both cases, Neuheisel and his staff were unhappy, but had to grin and bear it. Not this spring, as the cover on offensive play book reads, “It’s time.”
“That’s a selfish thing, because you have to go out and show you deserve to be on the field, and that’s a team thing, because it’s time to come together and get better,” tight end Joseph Fauria said.
The Bruins enter spring relatively healthy.
Strong safety Tony Dye underwent surgery on his left big toe and is still slowed. Tackle Micah Kia will go through non-contact drills, but is still rehabilitating from knee surgery. Darius Savage (back) and defensive Reginald Stokes (knee) are both out while recovering from surgery.
Center Kai Maiava, who was academically ineligible for the bowl game, is now eligible, Neuheisel said.
As for whether the players got the message about going over the wall, Neuheisel said, “I haven’t got any guarantees. I’m just telling them they have to stay away from it. While we’ve done some things to get ourselves back to being considered as a ‘maybe,’ it is now imperative we do all the things internally to give ourselves a chance to break through.”
-- Chris Foster