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UCLA football: Neuheisel fires off a message to team

April 19, 2010 |  7:31 pm

Rick Neuheisel, UCLA’s relentlessly optimistic coach, took a different tack after practice Monday.

After a day of dropped passes, blown assignments and other mental mistakes by far too many players, Neuheisel gave one of his harshest team assessments since coming back to Westwood.

Neuheisel launched into a post-practice postmortem as soon as he reached the media scrum.

“It’s important that these kids understand, whether it is their time here at UCLA, or whatever business opportunities they go into, you have to seize your opportunity,” Neuheisel said. “When kids get an opportunity to get into the game, they better know what they’re doing. If they don’t, there is no one to blame but themselves.

“Too often we hear, ‘I’m not getting my chance.’ This spring practice is nothing but chances. . . . It doesn’t mean we’re going to throw them out when it’s the first time, but when it’s the mental mistakes that happen too often, they have to understand that we have to look for another candidate.

“That’s the reality of life. The faster they learn it, the more successful they will be. I say that only because I see some guys who aren’t seizing their moments. I’m not naming names, but I can already picture it, I’m pre-calling it, when they come into my office and wonder what happened.

“I’m making sure they understand that they better know what they are doing. If they don’t, I’m going to see it on film 10 times tomorrow.”

Neuheisel paused, then said, “Other than that, we had a great day.”

--Chris Foster