UCLA returned to the practice field Tuesday, showing some of the resolve that will be required to end a three-game losing streak.
Coach Rick Neuheisel said he was pleased with the way practice went and that the team did not seem like it had given up because of the losing streak.
"I really liked the effort and the attitude," Neuheisel said. "It' s a good start to our week and I'm pleased with where we're at right now."
A few tidbits:
The Bruins have given up 300 yards passing or more in three of their last four games, so Neuheisel had receivers Randall Carroll, Josh Smith and Ricky Marvray working with the scout team offense against the first team defense for a portion of practice. Neuheisel said the move was to better prepare UCLA's defensive backs for the speed and talent of Oregon State's receivers. "We have to make sure with their talent in the receiving corps and the speed of their routes, we have to get guys who can run," Neuheisel said. "So we found time to go good against good in that regard."
As he did some last week, Neuheisel spent some time working with the defense, but said he was only there to help coach the scout team offense, not to look over the shoulders of the defensive coaches. "I have full confidence in our defensive coaches," Neuheisel said. "I don’t want it to appear that that’s the case. I went over there to help the scout team and make sure that the three guys who haven’t been scouts all year were integrated properly and so we got the looks that we needed. That was the only reason to be over there." Smith and Marvray had worked with the scout team while serving their suspensions over the last two weeks.
Middle linebacker Steve Sloan did not dress for practice and Neuheisel said he's unlikely to play Saturday because of a strained hamstring. Freshman Jordan Zumwalt, who replaced Sloan after the injury during the Arizona game, took the first-team reps at that position. "You could just see him grow during the course of the game," Neuheisel said. "That doesn’t mean he’s a finished product by any stretch, but certainly believe he’s ready for the next step." The biggest concern in having Zumwalt at the middle linebacker is his ability to read plays and make call changes. Neuheisel said weakside linebacker Sean Westgate would be able to help in that regard. "We certainly have a safeguard in the event that he gets block," Neuheisel said. "We’ve got a guy who can help him there."
Quarterback Kevin Prince appeared at practice for the first time since he had season-ending knee surgery Oct. 23 to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee. Prince was on crutches and said he hoped to be recovered in time for Spring practice.
Receiver Nelson Rosario returned to practice after sitting out the last two weeks with an ankle sprain. Rosario practiced full speed and said he would be ready to play this weekend. "It’s a little sore, but nothing I can’t push through, he said. "It didn’t really hurt straight line at all, it’s just hurt a little bit cutting off of it, but nothing too bad."
Cornerback Sheldon Price returned to practice for the first time since a sprained knee knocked him out of the Oct. 9 game against California. Price practiced for the first part of practice, but sat out the second half with a large bag of ice wrapped around his knee. "He feels like he's going to be ready to go, so I'm excited about that," Neuheisel said.
Receiver Taylor Embree practiced with a red no-contact jersey after suffering a bruised sternum on a punt return against Arizona. Neuheisel said is was precautionary. "We didn't want him to take a hit, but he'll be ready to go," Neuheisel said.
Safety Dalton Hilliard sat out of practice. Hilliard has a concussion after running into a teammate during practice last week. He did not play against Arizona.