Posted on: August 31, 2011 1:07 am
Edited on: August 31, 2011 1:08 am
Posted by Bryan Fischer
As the old saying goes, if you have two quarterbacks, you don't really have a quarterback.
Such is the case at UCLA, where head coach Rick Neuheisel named Kevin Prince the starter Tuesday night but told reporters that fellow signal-caller Richard Brehaut would see playing time in the Bruins' opener against Houston.
"This is not so everybody feels good," Neuheisel said. "It's so that the competition continues. We're going to play this position well. We're going to play it consistently. Both kids are capable of doing that and I'm going to expect it from them. I'm excited to watch them both play."
Prince started the first five games last season before being sidelined with a knee injury. At the beginning of fall camp, Neuheisel said Prince would start out with the first team offense but preferred to keep the quarterback competition open. The hope was that either Brehaut would push Prince or one of the two would win the job with no questions asked. Instead, naming a starter is code for "QB rotation" in Westwood.
"I just believe both deserve to play, so both are going to play this weekend," Neuheisel said. "We'll start Kevin, and Richard will come off the bench and play. I've told both of them that I don't know exactly when or how or why, because when you make promises of that sort, you end up setting yourself up for disappointment because you can never predict the ebb and flow of a game."
Considering that UCLA was almost dead last among FBS teams in passing offense last season, one has to assume there's nowhere to go but up no matter what the rotation looks like in the opener. Neuheisel, who also doubles as the Bruins quarterbacks coach, has also pledged to work in true freshman Brett Hundley in some specially designed packages. He is slowly returning from a knee injury that kept him out at the beginning of camp but it appears he will see some meaningful snaps at some point this season.
Given the injury history at the position in recent years, perhaps it is a good thing that more than one player will be ready to lead the offense. On the other hand, there is that old saying...
Posted on: August 9, 2011 12:13 am
Edited on: August 9, 2011 12:23 am
Posted by Bryan Fischer
LOS ANGELES -- UCLA kicked off fall camp Monday evening on a picturesque day in Westwood and while there wasn't much to report from the no pads practice, the Bruins got off the field without any injuries and with noticeably more depth at certain skill positions than years past.
Given the Bruins injury history (which is a very long, almost comical one), escaping every practice to the nearby icebaths without a signficant injury is key as the team looks to finally build some depth in year four under head coach Rick Neuheisel.
"These are all our guys," Neuheisel said. "We recruited them, we've coached them, it's our job now to get them to where they can compete successfully."
Quarterback Kevin Price took the field without a knee brace and intends to keep things that way unless ordered to wear one by trainers. The oft-injured quarterback missed most of fall camp last year before starting the opener and sat out all of spring practice with a knee injury. He took reps with the first team offense as expected and was sharp throwing the ball out of the pocket but still seemed to be a bit rusty with his timing running the offense.
"Not once did I feel limited physically. Like I said before, I feel 100 percent physically," Prince said. "I just have to make sure I know the playbook the best and can execute it the best. I do that and I think that will get me on the field."
With highly touted freshman quarterback Brett Hundley sidelined for a few weeks following knee surgery, Richard Brehaut was the man looking to take the starting job away from Prince but looked uneven throughout the two-plus hour practice. Brehaut tossed a few interceptions - including one into double coverage - but did make a several nice throws in the pocket. He said afterwards that he believes it is 50/50 between him and Prince to start but based on the number of reps and how Neuheisel coached during individual drills, it seems as though the head coach favors last year's starter.
Offensive line depth is still an issue and the team will be without one of their most flexible players in guard/tackle Jeff Baca, who is recovering from a broken ankle suffered in the spring. At this point UCLA will mix and match with several inexperienced players and finding the right group remains one of the big questions the offensive staff is looking to answer early on in camp.
"It's a work in progress," Neuheisel said of the line. "Especially at the inside positions. We're going to have to work through that and then see which freshmen can help with depth. The next question is when does Baca get back."
Tight end Joseph Fauria stood out, literally, as the tallest player on the team but also with his play catching passes over the middle. He seemed to only have one drop and there's no question that he'll be a big target for the quarterbacks to use if they're (likely) being chased out of the pocket by a few defenders. Wide receiver Shaq Evans and tailback Johnathan Franklin also impressed with their speed and quickness.
On the defensive side, ends Datone Jones and Owa Odighizuwa both looked good and the latter in particular seemed bigger and more confident than he was in the spring. Defensive tackle remains a work in progress but the Bruins should be able to get a decent pass rush from the front four if the ends do their job. Linebacker Patrick Larimore looks a little bigger than last year but still was able to cover one of the numerous tight ends the offensive sent out during 7-on-7 and team periods. The secondary was solid but not spectacular.
All in all, it certainly appears that UCLA has their deepest, and possibly most talented, team under Neuheisel but it remains to be seen if that can translate to wins on the field. It's early and there's plenty of time to incorporate some new pieces but for day one, things were not bad at all for the Bruins.
Posted on: July 27, 2011 8:01 am
Posted by Chip Patterson
The college football coaching industry has become increasingly volatile over the last several years, as a failure to meet expectations is often immediately met with questions about the dreaded "hot seat." One of the Pac-12 coaches who will face those questions all season is UCLA head coach Rick Neuheisel. The seasoned vet would not be caught off guard while meeting the media in Los Angeles on Tuesday, and beat them to the punch with the "hot seat" reference.
"Excited to be here," Neuheisel said as he began his opening statement. "As a coach on the proverbial hot seat, I guess you're excited to be invited to any of these things."
The crowd chuckled a bit, and then he returned to the topic in the first question when asked what it is going to take to turn this season around and continue coaching the Bruins.
"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."
Here are some more highlights from UCLA's time with the media in Los Angeles on Tuesday:
- Neuheisel dropped the bomb that we reported earlier about true freshman quarterback Brett Hundley undergoing knee surgery to repair torn meniscus, and injury he suffered playing pickup basketball. He said that once against Kevin Prince and Richard Brehaut will be competing for the position and Hundley will likely miss three to four weeks.
- For the first time since Neuheisel's arrival back in Los Angeles, he says the Bruins are two-deep at every defensive position with the exception of cornerback. After suffering from injuries defensively in 2010, the depth on that side of the ball is a reason Neuheisel says "hope springs eternal."
- Running back Johnathan Franklin is ready to step up and be a leader of this team. He was singled out by Neuheisel early in the press conference as a big reason for optimism heading into the season. The Bruins believe they are "light years ahead of where they were at this point" a year ago in the running game. Franklin also stepped up and acknowledged that when the team needs someone to make a play this fall, he is going to take that responsibility on himself.
Posted on: July 26, 2011 3:58 pm
Edited on: July 26, 2011 4:56 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
We don't know what Rick Neuheisel did to curse the UCLA quarterback position. Maybe he entered an NCAA Tournament pool with a coven of old gypsy women. Maybe the one area of the Bruins' practice field where Neuheisel has them warm up is a very, very small ancient Indian burial ground. Maybe he signed his UCLA contract by the light of a full moon under a ladder on Friday the 13th under the advice of legal counsel Joe Theismann.
But whatever the reason, UCLA's quarterbacks have the most rotten luck of any single position on any single college football team in the FBS--and by this point, that's closer to fact than opinion. The latest evidence? Neuheisel announced at Pac-12 Media Days Tuesday that true freshman Brett Hundley has torn his meniscus and will undergo surgery. Hundley suffered the injury playing pickup basketball.
Fortunately, the injury is expected to sideline Hundley for only three-to-four weeks, and the Bruins still have two quarterbacks with starting experience in Kevin Prince (the expected starter) and Richard Brehaut. But as a highly-touted prospect who fits the Bruins' pistol offense snugly and enrolled early for spring practice, Hundley nonethless had a shot at major playing time or even the starting position--particularly given that both Prince and Brehaut have their own injury histories to deal with.
He may still have that shot, especially later in the year. But missing out on the critical first few weeks of fall camp and being forced to deal with his recovery on the fly isn't the recipe for any player to make an immediate impact, much less a true freshman.
So in the end, it's just one less option for Neuheisel to work with through the first several weeks of the 2011 campaign. If there's any silver lining, though, it's this: Neuheisel must be awfully comfortable handling setbacks at the quarterback position by now. Right?
Posted on: April 8, 2011 11:26 am
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
If there's anything you'd have expected Rick Neuheisel to learn in his star-crossed, injury-plagued tenure at UCLA, it's that he needs to have as many quarterbacks prepared for action as he possibly can; you never know when whatever angry Norse god or gypsy curse that's been shredding Bruin ankles and ligaments the past few seasons will strike again.
That goes double when one of those quarterbacks is Kevin Prince, the junior whose quarterbacking down the stretch of the 2009 season played a major role in propelling UCLA to a bowl game and represents one of the few stretches of competent quarterback play for the Bruins in recent memory. But from Neuheisel's management of the limited Prince and his other quarterbacks at yesterday's practice, you wouldn't know it (emphasis added):
Just so we're clear on Neuheisel's logic, the responsibility of getting his most experienced, likely most talented option at quarterback involved in quarterbacking drills on the first day that quarterback is available falls on ... the quarterback.
Posted on: October 4, 2010 1:54 pm
Edited on: October 4, 2010 1:57 pm
Posted by Chip Patterson
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.
Posted on: September 25, 2010 7:08 pm
Edited on: September 25, 2010 10:13 pm
Posted by Chip Patterson
So far this season, Texas has counted on their defense to carry the load as Garrett Gilbert gets adjusted to leading the Longhorns office. On Saturday against UCLA, they showed a vulnerability that has not been seen all season.
Kevin Prince and the Bruins offense turned four Texas first half turnovers into a 13-3 halftime lead and never looked back, rolling on to a 34-12 win over the Longhorns in Austin. The Longhorns defense had no answer for UCLA's running game, with the Bruins using four different rushers to total 264 yards on the ground.
Texas tried very hard to give the game to UCLA early, and they succeeded. The mental mistakes on top of the turnovers put the Longhorns in a hole too deep to escape. It's Texas' first loss in Memorial Stadium since September 29, 2007 against Kansas State.
Perhaps Texas got caught looking ahead to next week's date with Oklahoma, or thought that UCLA did not pose a threat in Memorial Stadium. Regardless of the excuses, the damage has been done. The non-conference loss will not have any effect on the Longhorns' chances at a Big 12 championship, but any hopes of a national title are all but completely erased.
For UCLA, it's a huge win that can turn around their season heading into conference play. Now at 2-2, the Bruins have the opportunity to mark this win as a turning point as they strive to make the postseason for the eighth time in the last nine years.
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Posted on: September 13, 2010 1:25 pm
Posted by Chip Patterson
The showdown between No. 23 Houston and UCLA is a pivotal one of the high-powered Cougars, with it being one of three games on the schedule against BCS AQ schools. A chance to showcase their top-ranked offense against one of it's more formidable opponents, and also a chance for Heisman hopeful quarterback Case Keenum to try and rack up numbers on a more national stage.
But first he needs to be medically cleared to play. Keenum is still listed as day-to-day after leaving the game in the Cougars' 54-24 win over UTEP on Friday. Keenum took a blow to the head while throwing an interception, and was "displaying signs of a mild concussion" but has been "improving dramatically," according to Houston head coach Kevin Sumlin.
Things are just as ambiguous on the other side of the ball for the Bruins with their signal callers. Starting quarterback Kevin Prince has struggled to get back to 100 percent since sitting out most of the preseason with a strained oblique. Prince then injured his shoulder in UCLA's 31-22 season opening loss to Kansas State. Prince shared time in practice with Richard Brehaut, and the sophomore eventually took over for Prince after an unproductive first half in UCLA's 35-0 loss to Stanford. Brehaut was unable to get much going himself, but it has left UCLA head coach Rick Neuheisel with no clear-cut favorite for starting quarterback.
"We'll see. We'll watch practice. The effectiveness of the quarterback position is critical, so we want to make sure we have someone out there who knows what he's doing and does it well. At the end of the day, as long as (Prince's) health is good, it comes down to performance. To date, the performance hasn't been what it needs to be."Neuheisel went on to reiterate that there is no decision and he has found himself second-guessing his decision to start Prince the first two games of the season. Houston is almost guaranteed to put up big points against the Bruins, so if UCLA wants to have any chance in the Rose Bowl on Saturday, they need to get things fixed on the offensive side of the ball.