Tuesday, December 13, 2011
Tuiasosopo gets into groove as new QB coach
By Blair Angulo
Just like at every other practice this season, the UCLA quarterbacks briefly huddled up Tuesday morning while the rest of the team stretched in the background. Then, interim quarterbacks coach Marques Tuiasosopo -- who stepped in when Rick Neuheisel was fired -- joined them.
The huddle disintegrated following a quick chant, and each quarterback broke away with a signature dance that's been fine tuned throughout the year. Tuiasosopo didn't hold back, either.
"I want to give him a seven out of 10," freshman Brett Hundley said of Tuiasosopo's dance moves, "but I'm being pretty nice."
"He's are better than I expected, but he's still sub-par," junior Richard Brehaut said, laughing. "He was a little bit stiff but, other than that, I'll give him an A for effort."
Tuiasosopo, who before the promotion served as an intern, apparently brings a rejuvenated approach to the position. There were limitations, per NCAA rules, on what he could and could not do as an intern. Now there are no restrictions, and Tuiasosopo has embraced the freedom.
"I'm able to be with the quarterbacks in the meeting room, and I can give my 100 percent coaching them," Tuiasosopo said. "I have no stipulations. It's been a great opportunity for me."
The quarterbacks praised the job Neuheisel did as their position coach and haven't noticed major changes between the two. Tuiasosopo, a former second-round draft selection of the Oakland Raiders, was a quarterback at Washington while Neuheisel was head coach of the Huskies.
"Coach Neuheisel, he was the head coach, so he had to be paying attention to other things," redshirt junior Kevin Prince said. "Coach Tui' is focused on us all day. The only thing he cares about is the quarterback position, so he's a lot more attentive to the little things we're doing."
Tuiasosopo, 32, said he knows newly hired coach Jim L. Mora "pretty well" from his time at Washington, and that he "would love to stay" as quarterbacks coach past Dec. 31, when the Bruins take on Illinois in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl in San Francisco.
"We'll have a chance to speak to coach Mora at some point this week and he and the administration will make those decisions," Tuiasosopo said.
Other news and notes from Tuesday’s practice:
• Immediately after the post-practice huddle, players scurried off Spaulding Field for a meeting with Mora. The meeting went on inside the Bud Knapp Football Center for close to 30 minutes.
• Starting middle linebacker Patrick Larimore had surgery on his injured thumb and did not practice. Interim head coach Mike Johnson said Larimore will most likely be outfitted with a cast and should play in the bowl game. "He's not out," Johnson. "I think he's going to come back and try to play. He's questionable right now."
• Junior defensive end Datone Jones threw a punch at offensive lineman Brett Downey. "That's what happens when you run all those plays and have all that testosterone going," Johnson said. "Sometimes you get upset. One guy pulls another guy, but you can't lose your cool. It has to be part of our discipline heading into this game."
• Johnson said he had no update on the possibility of him taking the head coaching position at Akron. "It's the same as yesterday. Nothing has changed," Johnson said.
• Running-game coordinator Jim Mastro, who reportedly has been hired as an assistant at Washington State, was not at practice for the third straight day.
• Sophomore offensive lineman Chris Ward is scheduled to undergo left knee surgery and is out indefinitely. Safety Dalton Hilliard wore a red no-contact jersey, while Tony Dye, Sean Westgate and Alex Mascarenas did not dress.
• Brehaut made the two best throws of the two-hour session, hitting Shaquelle Evans on a skinny post for a long touchdown and, a few minutes later, lofting a soft fade pass to Derrick Coleman down the sideline.