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UCLA's Rick Neuheisel unhappy with quarterbacks Monday morning

Neuheisel_640 UCLA Coach Rick Neuheisel is generally a hard man to please, if you’re a quarterback. Monday morning, he had reason to be somewhat cranky.

Neither Kevin Prince nor Richard Brehaut were especially sharp, bringing a first-thing-from-my-lips response from Neuheisel after practice.

“The quarterback position did not play well this morning,” Neuheisel said. “We got to learn how to relax when pressure is coming. We’ll get there. We can be better than we were today.”

Prince and Brehaut looked a little unsure facing pass pressure in 11-on-11 drills. Both overthrew receivers at times.

“We were just missing balls that we shouldn’t miss, balls that we haven’t missed,” Neuheisel said. “We can’t take days off. They have to understand that.”

Off kicks

The kicking game remains in chaos.

While punter Jeff Locke is solid, kickers Kip Smith and Joe Roberts have struggled. Both wobbled on field goals last week. Now kickoffs have become a chore.

Smith shanked two kickoffs Saturday, getting a tongue-lashing from Neuheisel in return. On Monday, Roberts, a walk-on, was coming up short, causing Neuheisel to bark, “Do I have to go find a junior college kicker to do this?”

“Joe is talented enough to do it, I just got after him because he was slowing down the drill with two or three in row that did not get down the field,” Neuheisel said.

Still, his frustration level with the kickers is high.

“We’re exploring every option we got,” Neuheisel said. “We’re trying to make sure these guys understand that they have a golden opportunity here. The expectations are going to be large. You have to have shoulders big enough to handle that. I think both kids do and now it’s about going out and getting it done.”

As to what other “options” he is exploring, Neuheisel said. “We’re looking around, seeing what else we can do.”

Injuries

F-back Anthony Barr was back at practice after missing two days with a hamstring injury.

Wide receiver Jerry Johnson, tight end Joseph Fauria, quarterback Nick Crissman and safety Dietrich Riley were back at practice following their bouts with food poisoning.

Linebacker Aaron Wallace, who sat out Saturday with concussion-like symptoms, practiced, but was wearing a red “non-contact” jersey.

Receiver Taylor Embree (calf injury), F-back Damien Thigpen (hamstring injury), safety Tony Dye (groin injury), safety Tevin McDonald (ankle injury), linebacker Jordan Zumwalt (concussion) and cornerback Jamie Graham (knee injury) remain sidelined.

As to whether Graham’s injured right knee might be serious, Neuheisel said, “I don’t think so. He had damage in the knee before, so an MRI would be inconclusive. We just need it to calm down and we think it will.”

Graham had surgery on the same knee last October, when he was playing for Vanderbilt.

ALSO:

UCLA receiver Josh Smith shows bounce-back ability

Richard Brehaut stands out during UCLA mini-scrimmage

-- Chris Foster

Photo: Rick Neuheisel at Saturday's practice. Credit: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times

 
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