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UCLA FYI

Neuheisel: 'This has to get better'

October 30, 2008|David Wharton | Wharton is a Times staff writer.

The frustration level might have risen a notch at UCLA on Wednesday as Coach Rick Neuheisel had some harsh words for his team.

"Still way too many mistakes on things that should be rock solid," he said. "We have to get our guys to understand that this has to be a little bit more important than it's currently being treated."

His comments came minutes after injured quarterback Patrick Cowan asked to speak at the end of practice. Cowan was loud and animated and, according to players, his message was direct: Don't take football for granted.

"It isn't a knock on anybody, it's just a reality check," Neuheisel said. "We have to have a 'come to grips' meeting internally for everybody that this has to get better."

With the Bruins struggling at 3-5, four games remaining on the schedule, the coach directed his criticism at the entire roster. Pressed for examples, he mentioned lapses by offensive linemen and receivers.

"We run a route and we bust the route, we don't do it right," he said. "And it's not a route that we just put in. It's a route that's been in our offense a long time. And then when we correct it, three people later, doing the same route, make the same mistake."

Hot topic

It's almost the time of year when defensive coordinator DeWayne Walker gets mentioned regarding various job openings around the country.

Last year, his name popped up at Washington State. The year before, it was Stanford and the NFL.

Now Washington has an opening and Walker has connections in Seattle: He interviewed for the coordinator's spot there last winter and his brother is friends with former Huskies star Warren Moon.

But have UCLA's difficulties this season dented his resume?

"I think the people who know football know what they're looking at," Walker said. "I think they know what it's all about."

The Bruins have played well enough against the pass but, with little help from the offense, rank in the bottom half of the Pac-10 in categories such as scoring and rushing defense.

"I can't control what the [athletic directors] think," Walker said. "But I think if they ask the right people what I'm all about, maybe that will spark some interest."

On the mend

Things are looking up for the Bruins in terms of some players who have been nursing injuries.

The X-rays on linebacker Reggie Carter's sore ribs were negative. He practiced Wednesday wearing a red jersey but is expected back at full strength next week.

The prognosis is similar for tackle Jeff Baca (strained hamstring) and tailback Kahlil Bell (ankle). Defensive end Reginald Stokes, who had arthroscopic surgery last week for a torn meniscus in his left knee, is recovering quickly enough to be considered for Oregon State on Nov. 8.

"We got an encouraging report this morning," Neuheisel said. "We might be able to get a few plays out of him."

--

david.wharton@latimes.com

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