UCLA football left tackle Raiqwon O’Neal spoke with the media following Wednesday morning’s practice session at Wasserman Football Center. O’Neal talked about Stanford’s defensive front, what Oregon did to cause disruption, where he fits into the culture at UCLA, the mindset needed to move past penalties, how he expresses his artistic side and how he likes to prepare for night games.
What have you seen out of Stanford’s defensive front?
So what have I seen out of Stanford’s front so far? They’re a well-disciplined team, playing hard and very, very well-coached. And just a very, very physical team.
How is the group rebounding at practice coming off the loss?
The group is rebounding really, really, really, really well. We have to get back to our fundamentals to our standards. Last week, we didn’t meet our standards, so now we had to regroup on Sunday, watch film, get our corrections right so we’ll be ready to go this week.
Didn’t sack Dorian but what was Oregon doing pressure-wise?
Pressure-wise, it was bringing different blitzes, then there was bringing different guys out from different personnels. It was just different ways to just get to the quarterback.
Difficult to communicate with the loud crowd?
Oh, I love playing in loud crowds cause you can know how well our unit is communicating, really, really well, that’s when we really have to tone in to listening to each other, making the right calls and going with it.
How has it been integrating yourself into a new program this season?
Integrating myself? That’s what you’re asking? Well for me, I love coming in, I was coming in to find a place I call home. That’s what I’ve had, and this culture here is very, very well and very, very great and I love it. So this atmosphere and the fans and the coaches around us – especially the players accepting me for me and bringing me in with open arms – I feel really loved here and I feel really great about the situation that we’re in.
What makes this culture unique to you?
The culture unique to me? It’s a family here, just like at Rutgers. Just like at Rutgers, it was a family there, I also feel that family here, that family of love and sacrifice, every man’s commitment to each other and being great for one another.
Talked to Garrett DiGiorgio about his false starts and how to get them under control?
It’s not just me, it’s all of us together. We all wrap around each other no matter if you make a mistake, I make a mistake, we’re all coming in together. We’re gonna wrap around and get it and make sure we get each other right. It’s not just one player, it’s all of us at once. We gotta make sure we’re on one accord, that’s how it’s gonna work on the O-line. Especially on the O-line, we gotta be one, be a one whole unit, nobody can mess up. So we wrap our arms around each other, make sure we all good.
Preventing false starts a product of experience?
Yeah, I mean, you rep it – I got false starts myself. So it’s just in tune to the cadence and you get to the point where you’re ready to go, you know the play and you just get eager, so I know that feeling. You get eager, you’re ready to go, so as long as you make up for that mistake, you’re fine. We’re all gonna make mistakes in life, how do you respond to it is another thing. That takes you another way.
How hard to put the past play behind you when you have a false start?
You have to, like – a high school coach told me ‘Forget about that drive (???).’ You gotta literally forget about the next, like – what happened last play, you can’t think about it because the next snap is coming, literally, in a snap. You have to be able to have, like, amnesia. We call it, like, amnesia and you have to be able to forget about that play. And whatever happens, we’ll fix it on the sideline. Just worry about the next play and we’ll get it right on the sideline.
When’s the last time you did something artistic?
Scroll to Continue
Oh. Hmm. Probably. That’s a good question. I probably did something my last semester at Rutgers, probably something with my internship with Creative Services with Andrew and the Rutgers athletic department. Probably the last time I did something artistic.
What do you want to do with art?
Me personally, I want to have my own business in photography and graphic design, so just open up my own business, be a freelancer or work with an athletic department.
Preparing for a night game?
There’s just so much time in between. You wake up on game day and you have the whole day to prepare to make sure you get your body right. You gotta understand, our bodies are on a time schedule so when night falls, when night starts to come, our body starts to get more sleepy so we gotta be able to adjust to that and be able to have our bodies awake when nighttime comes.
Nap during the day?
If you can find a mid-day nap, yes. Yes, I would recommend it. For me, personally, it works for me. But you gotta find what works for you. If I had a young guy ask me, hey, how do you prepare yourself for a night game? I would say, well, this is what I do. I give them a breakdown of what I do, but if it works for you, it works for you. But you gotta find what works for you at the end of the day. Because it’s your body better than anybody.
Finding your night routine?
It took me probably, my sophomore year, my sophomore year. When I first started, it took me a lot to adjust, coming from freshman to sophomore, having that year under your belt really, really helps you. It helped me find my routine and comfort of how my body reacts. What kind of treatment I need, what kind of food, what kind of hydration, what works for my body.
Graphic design relationship working with NIL deals and college athletes today?
I see that really, really merging together well because as you this society is combining all into social media, graphics, now a lot of people are looking for, hey, can you get this logo? Can you get me a logo? And especially NFTs as well. It’s starting too – the meta world – all of this is just starting to come together and we just, it’s just going to collide together and it’s just going to be great.
Make your own logo?
Yes, ma’am I do.
Make logos for teams?
Ah, no ma’am, not that I can think of. I think I did one. But I made my first logo back in 2019, that’s when I started with my internship with graphic design in Rutgers athletics with creative services, for my personal brand, I made my own logo.
Still using it?
Yes ma’am, to this day – R71.
Help the UCLA football social media team?
Of course, of course. I’m a recruit, I’ve been there, so I know how these young guys are so everybody wants to see themselves on a graphic.
Follow Connon on Twitter at @SamConnon
Follow All Bruins on Twitter at @FN_AllBruins
Like All Bruins on Facebook at @FN.AllBruins
Subscribe to All Bruins on YouTube
Read more UCLA stories: UCLA Bruins on Sports Illustrated
Read more UCLA football stories: UCLA Football on Sports Illustrated