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Neuheisel's Seattle trip

November 10, 2008|David Wharton | Wharton is a Times staff writer

The subject is bound to come up this week. Rick Neuheisel knows he can't avoid it.

With his team playing at Washington on Saturday, the UCLA coach will return to a place where he has some less-than-pleasant history.

"I have truthfully not thought about it for a long time," he said. "But now that it's here, I've been forced to think about it."

Neuheisel spent four seasons coaching the Huskies before the university fired him over his involvement in an NCAA basketball betting pool. He subsequently filed a wrongful-termination suit and won a $4.5-million settlement from the NCAA and the school.

He spent several years in the NFL before returning to the college game with the Bruins.

"What happened between Washington and myself is water under the bridge. It's come and gone," he said Sunday evening. "Hopefully, both sides learned."

Film review

After watching videotape of UCLA's loss to Oregon State, the ever-optimistic Neuheisel said he was encouraged that his team is still playing hard. He liked the defense and the kickoff coverage.

But he saw a familiar pattern on offense.

Linemen could not open holes for the running backs. That forced the quarterbacks to throw more often. And that resulted in turnovers.

Starter Kevin Craft had two interceptions and fumbled while scrambling. Reserve Chris Forcier also had a pass intercepted.

"We're too inconsistent to be considered a good team," Neuheisel said.

Meanwhile, former starter Ben Olson has experienced pain in the foot he broke before the season and is thought to be weeks away from being able to play.

Different story

Early in Saturday's game, starting right guard Nick Ekbatani was replaced by reserve Sonny Tevaga. Offensive line coach Bob Palcic said the move had nothing to do with Ekbatani's performance on the field.

Palcic said he wanted to reward Tevaga for a good week of practice. But on Sunday, Neuheisel offered a different take.

"Nick had gotten beaten on a pass rush," he said.

As to whether there will be further reshuffling of the front five in practice this week, the coach said: "We'll wait and see."



Up next

UCLA (3-6, 2-4) at

Washington (0-9, 0-6)

Saturday, 7:15 p.m. FSN

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