Coach Rick Neuheisel addressed the media via conference call Sunday after watching film of UCLA's after watching game film of UCLA's 38-34 loss to Houston, and blamed the poor defensive effort on a lack of discipline by defensive players.
Houston quarterback Case Keenum methodically dismantled the UCLA defense with a precision passing game, netting 310 yards while completing 30 of 40 (75 percent) of his passes. The majority of those yards came on quick-hitting short routes where receivers dragged across the field underneath UCLA's coverage, but Neuheisel said the Bruns defenders were simply out of position.
"They were very good at throwing the ball underneath," Neuheisel said. "But truthfully, if we stay where we’re supposed to be and don’t come out of zones and don’t come out of gaps, we’re going to be just fine."
Neuheisel refused to blame a defensive game plan that had cornerbacks Sheldon Price and Aaron Hester playing seven yards off the ball much of the time, instead putting the onus on players who got out of position because they were trying to do too much.
"First game, wanting to make plays, wanting to make somebody else’s play," he said when asked why UCLA defenders they were so often out of their zones. "And it was not something that we saw in practice. First game and wanting to do that. We just have to trust that the offense and defense will work if we stay disciplined."
Some other topics of conversation included:
Kevin Prince has a sprained shoulder to go along with the concussion that knocked him out of the Houston gane and is questionable to play against San Jose State.
Linebacker Glenn Love has a dislocated shoulder and will miss at least two weeks.
For the most part, Neuheisel liked what he saw from quarterback Richard Brehaut, but said he's still a work in progress. "There were some really good things that he did, we’ve just got to make sure that he plays like everybody else needs to play--within the structure of the offense," Neuheisel said. "He doesn’t have to do anything flamboyant. If he plays within it and uses the reads that we teach and the footwork that we teach, he’s certainly accurate enough and talented enough to have great days."
Neuheisel defended the Bruins' time-consuming drive in the fourth quarter, when they took possession with 9:31 to play trailing 38-28 and did not go to a hurry-up offense. They chewed up more than seven minutes and the drive ended in a missed field goal with 2:29 to play. "I wanted two drives to their one," he said. "I wanted to make sure that we had a chance to score twice, which we ended up having...I don't have any regret or ill feelings about how we conducted the drive. I'm disappointed we didn't score points on the first drive, we certainly did on the second drive, but it wasn't to be."
Neuheisel said he would remind his team that one loss does not ruin the season. "I’ve got to get them not to listen to you guys about all doom and that stuff," he said. "I’ve got to make sure that they understand that this is the beginning, there were lots of good things yesterday but the outcome was certainly not what we wanted or hoped for and felt like we worked hard for. We’ve got to go back and become more discipline and have more resolve with respect to what we’re trying to get accomplished with both sides of the ball and good things will begin to happen for us."
He also reiterated his post game statement that while any loss is disappointing, this one was not any more deflating because of the high hopes the players, coaches and fans had for the team this season. "There still are high hopes," he said. "The high hopes haven’t dissipated. If they have for you, I’m sorry to hear it, but absolutely not. We still have high hopes and can’t wait to play again."