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July 26, 2011

Johnathan Franklin

Rick Neuheisel


COACH NEUHEISEL: Good afternoon or good morning, I guess we're hedging on both. Excited to be here as a coach on the proverbial hot seat. I guess you're excited to be invited to any of these things. I am looking forward to the upcoming season. I know I say that every year, but never more so than this year.
Got a bunch of youngsters that have been working unbelievably hard in anticipation of this season. Johnathan has assumed a leadership role.
I just am very, very excited about having this group of guys - many of them were in my first recruiting class when I got to UCLA - reach this point in their careers and have so much to prove, especially at the dawning of a new conference and the first ever Pac-12 Championship at stake.
Very much excited about the prospect of beginning the 2011 season, and happy to take any questions you might have.
Johnathan you have anything you want to tell the folks?
JOHNATHAN FRANKLIN: It's great to be here.
COACH NEUHEISEL: Man of very few words.

Q. What is it going to take to turn this season around and continue your coaching?
COACH NEUHEISEL: Well, we don't have to turn it around yet because nothing bad's happened yet. But I think in this business we all are on somewhat of a hot seat at all times. I mean, it just comes with the nature of the beast.
Certainly expectations at UCLA are such that it's important that we fashion together the best season possible. I think we have a number of quality kids with the kind of experience that you can safely say they're going to play well.
We've got to get lucky and stay healthy like every other team has to. But if we can play well at the quarterback position -- and when I say "well," I mean consistently and not turn the ball over to the extent that we've been prone to do over the past three years. And we can protect the quarterback, meaning that the offensive line can have some measure of continuity and do a good job up front.
Then put that together with the same running game that we fashioned last year when Johnathan was an 1100-yard back. I think we're light years ahead of where we were at this point in the running game. So even if the numbers were the same, if we can fashion together the kind of throwing game that I've been associated with in the past, I think there is reason for great optimism.
Defensively we'll be better. Took it on the chin a little bit because of inexperience a year ago. We lost Brian Price to the NFL, we lost Datone Jones to a foot injury. So our two experienced guys up front were both lost. So we were going to be a little bit uphill in the front seven.
But I think because of that we're a year better, year older, year stronger. For the first time at UCLA, we're two deep on defense, with the possible exception of corner. So everybody can go in there and play, and you don't feel like you're losing a lot when someone else goes into the game. So for those reasons, hope springs eternal.

Q. Coach, let's talk about your passion, bucket status for a second here.
COACH NEUHEISEL: You say one thing on a radio show, and look what happens.

Q. I know it's always overflowing. But I'm wondering, what do the Bruins have to do to get the fans excited to go into the Rose Bowl? Is it just a one number total --
COACH NEUHEISEL: Beat Houston. Yeah, because we play the next week against San Jose State. So if we can go on the road and beat Houston and do so in an impressive way, look like we're well-coached and a sound, fundamental football team, I think they'll come out the next week and be excited.
If we can find a way to win that one, the next one's against Texas. It can happen that fast. It doesn't take long to win back your constituency. They just want to know there is reason for your optimism. So, we just got to come out of the gate ready to play.

Q. How have the sanctions across town affected recruiting specifically? Has it worked to your advantage and can you elaborate on that?
COACH NEUHEISEL: I haven't noticed anything with respect to that. I mean, obviously the numbers will be small. Remember those sanctions didn't play into it at all this year because they had the appeal. But their numbers will be down. So we'll wait and see.
At the end of the day, it's about us. If we go out and play like we're capable of playing and put ourselves in postseason play and have a great showing in that capacity, people will come to UCLA because they'll be intrigued about the momentum of the program.
When they get to UCLA, they'll say holy cow, what a beautiful campus. They'll see the kind of kids and the character of the student-athlete that we have at the school. They'll be excited about it. Moms and dads are going to say I want my son here. That's how you get a program going. We're not far away from getting that jump started.

Q. You're changing the excessive celebration rule to take touchdowns away if you go crazy before the goal line. Say you're down against USC by five points, five seconds left, you're on the 3-yard line, you're in around and all alone, how hard is it for you not to do something crazy before you go over the goal line? Do you have to think about it or how are you going to handle that?
JOHNATHAN FRANKLIN: There's got to be discipline. I just want to celebrate with my team after I score that touchdown. If I do it, I'll just run over with my fellas and celebrate.

Q. You may be the best one to ask this, but what do you expect from Colorado as a new league member, both present, future, and potential?
COACH NEUHEISEL: I'm thrilled for Colorado. I don't know if you remember, but in 1995, when I was named the head coach there, there was some talk about Texas and Colorado joining the Pac-10 at that time. And the president asked my advice, and I was just smart enough -- never going to call myself smart -- but just smart enough to say I'm not the best person to ask, because I was so gung-ho for it. I didn't want to be on record as doing that as my first official act as a football coach.
But I think it's the right move for Colorado. Having coached there, I know that California recruiting is vital to their success. And now being part of the Pac-12 and having games in the state of California on an annual basis is going to be a huge boon to their recruiting. So it will be a great thing for them.

Q. How do you see the quarterback battle playing out going into camp?
COACH NEUHEISEL: Well, I'm anxious to see it played out at all. I do have an a announcement to make with respect to Brett Hundley. Brett Hundley's going to undergo knee surgery on Wednesday. He's got a torn meniscus that will keep him out for three to maybe four weeks. Hopefully we'll have him for the second half of camp.
He hurt it playing basketball. But he'll be back before long, and I'm excited that he's had as much work as he's had prior to that, so that we at least know what we have when he does return to help.
But Kevin Prince is going to be back fully ready to go. He didn't participate in spring because of the rehabilitation of his knee that was surgically repaired last fall. So he and Richard Brehaut and Nick Crissman, Darius Bell are going to fight and scratch, and ultimately what we have to do is play the position well.
It makes no differences the name on the back of the jersey to me. What makes the difference to me is that the guy has all the intangibles that are necessary to play it well. One, intelligence, knows the situation, knows what is required of this particular situation. Two, has the ability to throw it to guys in the same colored jersey accurately, and, three, the team loves him and follows him.
Those are the kind of things that you need at that position, and our conference is full of them. It's time for UCLA to have that guy as well.

Q. Who do you expect to get the first reps going into fall camp, or first day of practice?
COACH NEUHEISEL: Who lines up with the first team?

Q. Yeah.
COACH NEUHEISEL: We'll flip a coin. How's that? No, I think Kevin Prince will. I think Kevin Prince deserves it. He was the starter when he got hurt, and he'll get the first snap, and he needs more work because he didn't get spring football. But Richard will be right there. It will be a battle.

Q. Coach, a tough go for you to start this process. Has it been a little more difficult than you anticipated in getting this thing turned around?
COACH NEUHEISEL: Yeah, that's fair to say. I'm always an optimist. I believe that UCLA and what UCLA's done in the past is help to catapult the students to a great future. We've had some good recruiting classes.
Johnathan was part of the first one that I was able to get to come and be a part of this program. But we just haven't turned the corner to the extent that I thought possible. I thought we were on the verge of it after 2009 with the Bowl win and coming back. But last year, unfortunately, took a step backwards with respect to our progress for a number of reasons not to be gone into again.
But I think what drives all competitive people are great challenges, and this is certainly that. It's a great challenge. I have a real stake in this. This is not just my job, it's my alma mater. It's kind of my dream to be the head coach at UCLA.
I am looking forward to this year like none other in that if we can get over this hump and get going in the right direction, it will be one of the great accomplishments in my own personal career and something that I think everybody will be excited about that I'm close to within the program and externally that follow our program.
So I really am thankful for the challenge. It's going to be a great one, and hopefully a successful one.
With guys like Johnathan pulling as hard as they are and working as hard as they are, I feel that we've got a great chance.

Q. You've always been a quiet player. Are you ready to step up and be the vocal leader at UCLA?
JOHNATHAN FRANKLIN: Yes, sir. I have no choice but to. You have Rahim Moore going, Akeem Ayers gone, and I'm placed on a platform where I have to lead this team. In late games when we need a guy to make a play, I have to be that guy. I have to be that guy to bring the spark to the team. I have to be the guy to carry the team to the top once again. I'm ready for that challenge, that's why I came to UCLA.

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