- Peter Yoon, ESPNLosAngeles.com
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UCLA finished its practice week with a light day in short and shoulder pads, spending a large chunk of time on special teams and red-zone drills and now moves into final preparations for Saturday's game against No. 6 Stanford in Palo Alto.
"Excited with the week of practice and the way the team has responded to the challenge of a top-10 opponent," coach Rick Neuheisel said. "Now we look forward to the opportunity to play the game and play as well as we can and hopefully give ourselves a great chance."
A few tidbits:
Neuhesel said he expected a physical game Saturday because that is the way Stanford has played over the last few years. "You understand as you do in prize fighting that you’re going in against somebody that likes to punch, like to slug," he said. "Our defense has to understand that and our offense has to understand that. It’s a key piece to this game, the physical nature that they like to play with and frankly it’s been kind of their calling card. We have to match that because as we evolve as a program we’re trying to have that be also a part of our identity."
Neuheisel added that Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck is what separates the Cardinal and makes them a top-10 team. "It’s a proven formula over the years that if you get a great quarterback you can usually do some good things around him," he said. "That’s not to take away from the other terrific players in their program, but that quarterback allows them to really tee off and have some opportunities because there are very few mistakes on the offensive side."
Neuheisel, like most coaches in the country, doesn't have a Luck-caliber quarterback. He said he's pleased with the progress Richard Brehaut has made but would like to see him get to another level. "I think he’s come a long way,' Neuheisel said. "I’m excited about continuing the journey toward becoming a really, really good player. ... There are things that we discover all the time that are in his head that aren’t exactly correct and we’ve got to get those weeded out."
The two-minute drill at the end of practice wasn't exactly smooth. On the first play, safety Stan McKay intercepted a Brehaut pass. They started over and Johnathan Franklin got stuffed for no gain follwed by consecutive dropped passes by Shaquelle Evans and Franklin. Brehaut then connected with Taylor Embree for 30 yards on fourth and 10, setting up a 35-yard field goal by Jeff Locke, which he made.
Injuries once again kept cornerback Sheldon Price (knee), safety Dalton Hilliard (shoulder) and safety Alex Mascarenas (concussion) on the sidelines. Neuheisel said they would all be game-time decisions. "We’ve got a number of kids that are dying to play that listed right now as questionable and doubtful and all that kind of stuff so we’ll just have to wait and see at game time," Neuheisel said. "Certainly they’ve played a lot of football and they’ll be missed if not available and if they can play we’d like to have them."
Joining the walking wounded was linebacker Glenn Love who sat out because of a hamstring issue. "We’re hopeful that he can be ready to go," Neuheisel said.