All bets off for Neuheisel, but field position will be key against Vols



Things have certainly changed for Rick Neuheisel.

Just a year ago, Neuheisel was the offensive coordinator for the NFL's Baltimore Ravens, even though everyone knew Neuheisel belonged in college football.

Just four years ago, Neuheisel was coaching in high school, trying to put his career back together following a departure from the University of Washington after it was discovered the had been involved in a high-stakes NCAA basketball tournament betting pool.

Now, Neuheisel is back at his alma mater. He's the coach at UCLA, preparing for the Bruins season-opening game against Tennessee.

Q: What do you think of the UT-UCLA series?

A: It is a great series. I was on the Terry Donahue staff in the early '90s when we got walloped by Dale Carter and Carl Pickens and that group. So I know what it is like to spend a day in the checkerboard environment. It was a heck of a ball game. It has been a great series over the years, a lot of history to it. Hopefully this next edition will live up to the billing.

Q: You lost two quarterbacks (Pat Cowan and Ben Olson) to injuries in back-to-back plays in spring practice. How did your team respond to that?

A: Kind of a freaky deal, we were in shorts. Neither one of the kids got touched; there was zero contact with either injury. Ben Olson was coming out of the naked fake after handing off and put pressure on his foot in an awkward way and snapped a bone in the bottom of his foot which required surgery. Hopefully he will be able to start working out in the middle of July. Pat Cowan, the other senior quarterback, was shuffling up in the pocket and tore his ACL and unfortunately for Pat, he will miss the season. That is a blow to our team. I told everybody that every year in college football, somebody rises to the occasion and hopefully that person will be on our campus this year. Obviously we are undefeated right now so it is easier to get them to buy in. I do believe that we have enough guys that are in that all-in mode, that we are going to play some good football this year.

Q: How significant is a primetime, Labor Day game on ESPN for a program trying to rebound?

A: It is terrific. It wasn't as if we weren't going to play Tennessee anyways. They were coming the next week, so to me it was a no-brainer. To get Coach (Phillip) Fulmer and his great team to come out here and be on Monday Night Football, it means a lot to our program to have that showcase opportunity and hopefully we will play well enough to give them a good game and we will see how it all turns out.

Q: What do you think of your football team heading into fall camp?

A: I think we are a solid football team. I don't know right now how many players we have that you would call a difference maker. I think we have good, solid, great, hardworking kids. You can win with good, solid, hardworking kids as long as you play really proficiently. The key for us will be to really work hard at playing smart football and play a field position game until we develop that magic or that difference maker, that guy that bursts onto the scene and gives the other team a match-up problem. I have been on teams, both as a player and as a coach, that weren't overly talented but caught a spark and a little magic and found ways to win. I think we can do that here as well.

Q: How do you prepare for Dave Clawson in his first year as UT's offensive coordinator?

A: Coach Clawson is a well-regarded guy. We will try to study what he did at Richmond. He is bringing in a new offense but he is coming into it with a head coach with a lot of experience and knows how to win in a lot of different ways. I think we are going to see a team that is going to be well coached, one that is going to be capable of many different things but probably a little bit close to the vest given that it is the first time out for a new quarterback (Jonathan Crompton). So I think it is going to be a field position ballgame.

Q: What is your stance on a college football playoff?

A: It is exciting to think of those types of games. The only thing I have been disappointed with in the BCS is the consolation atmosphere that goes sometimes to a Sugar Bowl or Orange Bowl. Those games have such great magnitude and they are such treats for colleges to bring those programs to. For a national audience not to feel like that is a big game is a disappointment. As a head football coach it is nice to win your last game. I have zero complaints and it is going to come down to when they need money and then the movement will come.

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Comments » 43

txsvol#372416 writes:

Let's beat the former San Antonion Gunslinger QB! Neuheisel and the others finished the season without being paid by owner Clinton Manges, a South Texas rancher who was "all hat and no cattle." Go Vols! SAVol

nicksjuzunk#646117 writes:

He doesn't sound like a man who is very confident in his team. I don't even know if they're workin like heck out there.

VOLS85 writes:

I'm going to echo what nick says...

This coach almost seems dejected. The comment that gets me most is "hopefully we will play well enough to give them a good game".

Does he not realize that he is at home? Even us lowly Tennessee boys who are tanked according to unnamed people on this site (not worthy of personal acknowledgment) found a way to go undefeated in the SEC at home last year...ask UCLA how that went...hell, ask USC how that went...

Moral of the story is that you still have to show up for game day...I'll be at UCLA to cheer us on on Sept. 1!

Good luck to the boys who think their sh*t don't stink...


pdhuff#552644 writes:

Nice smoke-blowin" Rick. Berry may have replaced Carter in talent, but their is no Carl Pickens. And many others.

"Solid team", huh. We will need to play a stellar game with no turnovers.

Simply cannot let them rush for 200 yards and keep the "D" out there. This will be a pick-em or 2-3 point spread, methinks. I have read where Olsen could be ready and we are bringing last year's D line. As 99gator said, they will have players with speed. Remember Cal?

How many days, Ashley?

pdhuff#552644 writes:

tngeoff, bigger than many seem to think. Many auger that this is an automatic W.

Cal's speed ran thru us like phooey thru a goose.

Volzo writes:

Hey Ricky,

I've got a pool together for today's final round of the U.S. Open. Are you in?

orangebloodgmc writes:

PDHuff, I do not hear a lot of folks saying this is an automatic W for us. We may be slightly ahead in terms of returning personnel, but we travel to their place so it comes out pretty even.

Mr_Brownstone writes:

Hope Fulmer and Co. don't fall into the "rope a dope" strategy....

USNAVol writes:

Neuheisel probably has lots of good reasons to sound humble about his chances for this season, but who among us cannot recognize the sound of a coach deliberately down-playing his team's abilities before a big game? UCLA obviously has lots of good atheletes - many of whom we'd like to have playing for us if we could get them. The point is that no major college team is going to lie down and give up just because the Orange and White steps on the field. (ref: Cal/UT '07) Our winning tradition, Rocky Top, and SEC Pride won't win this game - only the guys on the field can do that, and ours need to bring their 'A' Game to California. PAC 10 fans LOVE to see SEC Teams lose - but I wnat to see the Bruins' fans heading dejectedly for the exits before the end of the 3rd quarter!
GO Vols !

dgarland1#214014 writes:

Refreshingly honest, from an opponent with a "tell it like it is" coach. I would like to hear such honest from our coaches more often.

vol_in_lsu_land writes:

huff and others.

I don't think I've seen anyone here claim UCLA is an auto-win. However, I've seen fans who know how to enjoy life by not wallowing in misery and angst who are hopeful...cheering for the boys in orange no matter what. We WILL be favored to win this game, so why not look for the reasons we'll win instead of the reasons we may lose? Let the coaches worry about the weaknesses (they know what they are).

BTW, we're a pathetic fanbase. Most every UCLA fan blog I've read counts this game as an L for their team. They have more respect for our boys than you guys do. Sad.

cjraney writes:

I'm not counting this as a W yet and I think it will be a good, tough game. However, we aren't bringing last year's D-line: they've all had a year to get coached up and work like heck in that fancy weight room, right?

If it is a field position, run the ball, save your D game I'll be happy. I think that's exactly what Crompton, Clawson, and the D-line need to practice to have any chance of running the FL-Aub-UGA-Bama gauntlet with any measure of success.

pdhuff#552644 writes:

No one is a seer to the future other than the good Lord. However, I am skeptical of "coaching up" a pass rush. We didn't have it last year. The effort was there, but the talent to bring the results was not. We send the same lads back out there.

Dupree could draw up effective plays if you don't disrupt them. Have we forgotten Bama's throws to the sidelines a 1000 times, it seemed like? Fla's 600 yards etc...Ky's 50 points. We tout our dbs (?)- we were 84th in pass defense per the NCAA.

I'm just interested in what we have done to prevent a repeat of being pushed all over the field, per many outings in 2007. Our offense, I believe, will be fine. Crompton is very capable and offense is where Phil's heart is.

The death of a thousand cuts is, well, a death of a 100 cuts. Lets all hope for no reruns.

johnlg00 writes:

pdhuff, there are several reasons why people think this year's secondary will be better than last year's. The most important of those is that last year we had lots of injuries in the secondary that forced us to play lots of young players in many different combinations. This year, all those young players have WAY more experience than they did going in last year, and they have already played in many of those different combinations. Besides, this year Eric Berry goes in as the acknowledged leader of the secondary, whereas last year he was feeling his way into his roles, both as a player and as a leader. In addition to all that, this year we have Demetrice Morley back, a sure-fire candidate for all-star honors. The pass rush may not be a WHOLE lot better than last year's, but it can hardly be worse. I don't think there is a chance in the world that anyone will run up the score on us like Bama and Florida did last year. In short, there is, IMHO, every logical reason to expect that the defense, especially the secondary, will be a good deal better this year.

Ralph_Crampton writes:

The Vols are a question mark in the game at the Rose bowl. Despite what some say, the big-orange are a decided underdog against the Bruins. Why?...Las Vegas gamblers along with the football magazines are no doubt aware of the Vols' past performances over the last forty years in LA LA land...As one Los Angeles writer wrote years ago...This Tennessee team from the heart of the Appaalachian mountains appear to be in over their heads against California teams when they play on the west coast.

IBleedOrange444 writes:

Why the heck are some of you guys trying to draw parallels between this UCLA team and last year's Cal team? They aren't even in the same category! Last year's Cal team had a daunting offense with DeSuan Jackson, Lavelle Hawkins, Nate Longshore, and Justin Forsett as well as a very good defense. They were in everyone's preseason top 25. This year's UCLA team is coming in with an all new coaching staff, very large number of players gone off of last year's two deep which stunk anyway, and injured QB's. I agree with an earlier poster who said that they may be able to hang with us on pure emotion in the beginning of the game, but by the 4th quarter we will be dominating!

As for the D line, I've got two words for you... Dan Williams. I think he is poised to step up and be great this year for us.

Go Vols!! Beat the snot out of those PAC 10 Pansies!!

IBleedOrange444 writes:


No one cares about you. No one wants to read your Gayters article either. Go hang out with your kids. They might actually still think you are somewhat cool.

TommyJack writes:

I would pretty much go ahead and put this one in the W column.

vol_in_lsu_land writes:

Ah, Doldrums on Father's day. My son is in a wedding in Kansas, so I had to give up my day with him to let him attend.

Doldrums. Bacon-Egg-and-Sleaze McMuffin is trolling again. I wonder if his Gator friends got tired of circle-jerking with him and he's looking for new playmates. Sorry bucko, we don't swing that way in Big Orange Country.

And the Nebobs of Negativity. Wow. Let's review: Cal is not UCLA and UCLA is not Cal. Doesn't matter what the score was last year. Doesn't matter about nekkid tree huggers. Different team, different coaches, different ballgame. UCLA is horrible and WE WILL BE FAVORED TO WIN. I don't give a hoot about "history". Tennessee finished 12th in the polls and made it to the SECCG. We return a whole bunch of playmakers. UCLA returns what, 9 players? Injured QB, altogether new coaching and new schemes. Doubt they can overcome all the question marks. If Tennessee has questions, UCLA is a virtual interrogation across the board.

Come on you negative ninnies. Get on board and get excited. Going to be a better year than you guys think, no doubt in my mind.

SFOrange writes:

UT 45 UCLA 24

vol_in_lsu_land writes:

Realistic Vols know that we'll win most of our games. Realistic Vols know that Florida (yes Florida) will be improved and we may lose that one (but not by the margin of last year). Realistic Vols know that we have Georgia's number and that game could go either way. Realistic Vols know that Bama isn't "there" quite yet and it was a total abberation that they handed us our azz. Realistic Vols know that you win some and you lose some, but whoever is at the big dance in the end has bragging rights (Where again was Florida?)

This site is not a haven for "realistic fans". It's a haven for people with nothing better to do than complain and for TROLLS like yourself with nothing better to do than stir the ant pile.

vol_in_lsu_land writes:

No, because "the rest of the posters" that you refer to only accounts for about 20% of the opinions posted here. Ever heard the saying, "the squeakiest wheel gets the grease"? Complainers and whiners make the most noise on this site, but they are, as I said, the minority. They have their place and sometimes they're right. You, however, are an idiot and giving you another place to post would make all of us much happier.

vol_in_lsu_land writes:


This might be a good time to post the score of last year's game, just for good measure. We all know how much you need to affirm your 3rd place finish in the East with the score from a September game.

volintexas writes:

Back to business boys, the UCLA/UT rivalry, which has been a great intersectional rivalry over the years. I was a kid when I took my first boat ride with the Vol Navy to watch Condredge Holloway come charging out of the locker room after his injury to lead the Vols back to a tie in 74 vs. Vermeil and Co. Then there was the bitter disappointment of UCLA coming back on us my senior year on the Hill in Neyland to tie us and spoil the 85 game. No worries, two weeks later we waxed Auburn and were on our way to our first SEC title since the 60's. This has been a great rivalry. There was that game in 91 that was about 100 degrees in Neyland. Brutally hot, but the Vols won so no worries. However, that was the year Dickey put seat numbers closer together, and the guy next to me was about 270 and sweating like a pig. Ugly. The old timers (I guess that's me now) still talk about the game in Memphis vs. Gary Beban. Glad to see the Bruins back on the schedule again.

philfan writes:

It sounds to me that he is saying, in a tactful way, that he has a rag tag team that will not be too competitive, but that he welcomes the national exposure on television. He seems almost apologetic about his team. I suspect that Neuheisel's best days are over, as are the days of Spurrier.

OrangePower11 writes:

Hey McDillusional:

That Demps kid is REALLY REALLY fast...and so was Bo Carrol and John Capel, those names ring your bell?

See ya in Knoxville buddy...Be excited for this season pal, you can only go up from 3rd!

Kindest Regards

pdhuff#552644 writes:

Daddyvol- lot of truth there. We all hope for the best. I feel the Bruins will provide a worthy test given the unknowns of Chow returning to the college game and Clawson unveiling his offense.

I am glad we're not returning the same d-line results as last year. I do believe LBs will be greatly improved overall. The DBs look fine as long as we don't hang them out to dry with long coverages.

ncvol writes:

Now come on and let's beat those Bruins ! Go Vols!

walt23tn writes:

Good coach and seems to be a good guy. I wish him the best of luck, except for the opener.

OrangePower11 writes:


It appears you struggle with simple math, you see the Vols have represented the East 3 out of the past 7 years. A far cry from 1 every 6 or 7 seasons.

We did not back into the 2001 Championship game, in fact if I remember correctly, we RAN STRAIGHT DOWN THE GATORS THROATS into the SEC EAST title.

Oh, AND we ran Spurrier off to the NFL.

19-18 overall series lead...Have a nice day!

OrangePower11 writes:


It appears you struggle with simple math, you see the Vols have represented the East 3 out of the past 7 years. A far cry from 1 every 6 or 7 seasons.

We did not back into the 2001 Championship game, in fact if I remember correctly, we RAN STRAIGHT DOWN THE GATORS THROATS into the SEC EAST title.

Oh, AND we ran Spurrier off to the NFL.

19-18 overall series lead...Have a nice day!

TommyJack writes:

PD: I see TN by 21 over UCLA. My gut says they are in flux. Neuheisel has never proven that he is a top tier coach. Chow is the Cutcliff of UCLA...don't know if he made USC or they made him...Now UAB...that's another story.

WorkinLikeHeck writes:

Great insight Ashley. Hopefully we won't be surprised by UCLA's speed like we were Cal's speed last year.

TommyJack writes:

Workin: CPF said he will have a disguised surfer dude with a stop watch spying on the uclans practices. No surprises.

volboy81#211803 writes:

All bets off for Neuheisel!..........I DOUBT IT!!

WorkinLikeHeck writes:

I would just like everybody to know that I am taking a leave of absence from this board effective at 2:00 p.m. central today until June 23rd at 8:00 p.m. Consider it an early Christmas present.

invisiblekid writes:

I think this game will be a good barometer for what the season holds for the Vols. If we struggle on defense, it could mean a long season. There may be a few growing pains offensively but we return plenty of experience. UCLA will invariably have some talent and the home field advantage should help, not so much from crowd noise but more in terms of the difficulties the Vols will face when going to the left coast. Overall, I don't think there is a question that the Vols have more talent though and the team with more talent should win.

pdhuff#552644 writes:

TJ, we've got a 12 acre field (hay) on a hill across the creek. I'm trying to talk Ma into letting me (hehe) get a $20k advance and put it all on the Vols vs UCLA. Or I'd waver if I could get the Bruins -21. Heart or head bet???

Three gallon of orange ade with a gallon of Grey Goose mixed in might get me in the mindset to watch the Vols in a 20k bet set-up. And then again, it might take a little more....

TommyJack writes:

PD: You ain't gonna win that permission,so don't worry about it. But I just can't imagine TN not winning big over a discombobulated UCLA with an overrated coaching staff. Now I don't believe that $20k worth...
Now if they DO beat us, I don't see how the defenders of the faith can keep defending.

vol_in_lsu_land writes:

Evidently the national media is impressed with "Foolmore's" early commitments.

Ralph_Crampton writes:

Fellows, you can't look at UCLA like one does other teams..The southern Californis area has so many great athletes that a team from one year cannot be compared to the next year. The football coaches at So. Cal., and UCLA are up to their knees with awesome high school talent each year. Some guys are commenting that the Vols are in for an easy win at the Rose bowl...don't you believe that for a moment. Also, the Vols must be aware of the terrific heat on the field..this heat is a "dry heat"...the hottest part of the day at the hottest time of the year for Los Angeles basin. Do you recall, Peyton Manning and the Vols in 96, after building up a 24-3 lead in first half, tired badly in the second half, The Vols were lucky to hold on for 30-24 win as a UCLA back broke free of tired Vol defenders wide open for a winning TD., but fumbled when a desparate Leonard Little slapped the ball out of the Bruin backs' arms and Vols recovered to hold on for the win. It was 110 degrees on the field. The Vols were such huge favorites that gamblers refused to post winning odds beware Vols.

volintexas writes:

Good post bigfan

THE_VOL writes:

CHOW vs CHAVIS????? Won't have to stay up late for this blowout will we???

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