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UCLA FOOTBALL FYI

Rick Neuheisel maintains stance on ending of game

The UCLA coach says there was nothing wrong with the plays called in the final minute of the Bruins' game against USC.

November 30, 2009|By Chris Foster
  • UCLA Coach Rick Neuheisel appears to be searching for an answer as his Bruins struggle offensively in the first half against USC on Saturday night.
UCLA Coach Rick Neuheisel appears to be searching for an answer as his Bruins… (Alex Gallardo / Los Angeles…)

Upon further review . . .

UCLA Coach Rick Neuheisel remains convinced that there was nothing wrong with the final minute of USC's 28-7 victory over the Bruins.

Neuheisel called a timeout with 54 seconds left Saturday and the Trojans taking a knee to run out the clock. USC Coach Pete Carroll countered by throwing a long touchdown pass that resulted in an angry confrontation between players on the field.

"Do I wish I did it differently? No," Neuheisel said on Sunday. "There were 50 seconds left and we had three timeouts. You owe it to your guys to keep trying."

Asked about Carroll's decision to go for the jugular, Neuheisel said, "It is Pete's job to coach his team."

Neuheisel, though, was asked what his decision would be if an opposing coach called time out with the Bruins leading and the game decided.

"I would probably run the ball," Neuheisel said.

Not pass?

"If you miss a pass, it would save them a timeout," Neuheisel said.

So he definitely wouldn't throw a deep pass?

"This just prolongs the issue, which I don't think is worthy of the conversation," Neuheisel said.

The other issue was his team's reaction to the touchdown and taunting from USC players. The entire team advanced to midfield, with some of the players having to be restrained.

"You got to maintain your composure," Neuheisel said. "We talked a little postgame about that and we'll talk more about it Tuesday when we have our meeting."

Bowl trouble

UCLA will wait and see on a bowl bid, though Neuheisel has already prepared the spin cycle.

The Bruins are bowl eligible at 6-6 and eager to complete a victory lap with a postseason game. That, though, may not be possible, as UCLA's chances at landing an at-large spot for a bowl remain slim because of its .500 record.

"I know we're the only team from a BCS conference that doesn't have a place to go right now," was Neuheisel's stance.

Well, them and Notre Dame, which is not in a conference, but is a prominent BCS team. The Fighting Irish are also left dangling with a 6-6 record.

Numbers stack up against the Bruins. Middle Tennessee (9-3), Northern Illinois (7-5) and Bowling Green (7-5) will all have to be taken care of before any 6-6 team. Hawaii could join that group with a victory over Wisconsin on Saturday.

At the most, there will be four bowls looking for at-large teams.

"UCLA and Notre Dame both look very attractive to a couple of bowls, but I'm not sure anyone will be in a position to take them," an official of one bowl said.

UCLA Athletic Director Dan Guerrero is believed to have met with officials from the Humanitarian Bowl on Saturday night. The Humanitarian Bowl may be searching for an at-large team.

"We only have ourselves to blame," Neuheisel said. "If we had played better, we wouldn't be in this predicament."

That would leave a 6-6 record as the accomplishment for the Bruins this season, a step forward from a woeful 4-8 season in 2008.

"It will be disappointing, but we'll survive if we don't get a bowl game," Neuheisel said. "We'd love to get the extra practices and have the ability to send our seniors off with a smile on their face. We still got bowl eligible."

Prince injured

Quarterback Kevin Prince, who left the game in the third quarter, has a sprained right shoulder, according to Neuheisel. Prince will undergo an MRI exam today to check for further damage.

chris.foster@latimes.com

twitter.com/cfosterlatimes

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