On the momentum of a three game winning streak and revitalized Pistol offense, the UCLA Bruins are starting to turn heads away from that other program in Los Angeles.
In the same week that USC fell from the AP Top 25 for the only the second time since 2002, the Bruins continued to bounce back from a dismal start with their 42-28 win over Washington State. Starting quarterback Kevin Prince missed the game because of a knee injury, but sophomore Richard Brehaut thrived in his first starting opportunity under center, guiding the team to 565 yards of total offense.
As usual, the Bruins were led by running backs Derrick Coleman (185 yards, 3 TDs) and Johnathan Franklin (216 yards, 1 TD). But Brehaut's 128 yards passing was the most of any Bruin quarterback all season, which has led to speculation regarding the starting quarterback job.
Head coach Rick Neuheisel put much of that speculation to rest in a conference call on Sunday, naming Prince the starting quarterback for Saturday's match up with the California Golden Bears. Neuheisel confirmed that as long as Prince is healthy, he will be the starting quarterback. Though he did have some interesting comments about Brehaut's performance.
"I thought he played pretty darn good," Neuheisel said. "He had a couple of really good plays. Some inexperience showed up at times. Ran himself into some problems, didn't realize how to take advantage of some protection issues. But for a first time out, I thought he was terrific."Brehaut does not run the ball as well as Prince, which is a crucial part of the Bruins scheme, but he did display toughness under pressure leading the offense on three straight scoring drives to overcome a 28-20 deficit late in the third quarter. Prince had fluid drained from his knee last week, but appears to be done with medical testing. Neuheisel said it is "a basis of how he feels" at this point. After seeing Brehaut's performance on Saturday, it would not surprise me to see Prince anxious to take the field against Cal.