UCLA football preview: Quarterbacks
The short version on the UCLA quarterback situation: There is nowhere to go but up … right?
The Bruins’ 2008 season can be summed up by the four longest scoring passes quarterback Kevin Craft created that were all on interception returns … 100 yards, 61 yards, 45 yards and 38 yards. The nine touchdown passes for the Bruins -- one thrown by a wide receiver -- came to a grand total of 90 yards.
Of course, Coach Rick Neuheisel has seen worse quarterback play. But, then, he was Keanu Reeves' football adviser for the movie “Point Break” (quarterback play during the beach football scene might look familiar to Bruin fans).
Not everything can be blamed on Craft, who took a beating courtesy of a talent-starved offensive line. But an upgrade is needed and Neuheisel hopes that redshirt freshman Kevin Prince is the answer, with Craft being relegated to backup, a more reasonable role for the community college transfer and true freshman Richard Brehaut waiting in the wings.
There are clear upsides to Prince. He has a strong arm and seems to carry necessary leadership qualities. There are downsides as well. He has not played in a game in two years, since he suffered a knee injury in the first quarter of the season opener.
Neuheisel believes that Prince, who he says has a “dangerous arm,” can create the type of long scoring plays seen by opposing defensive backs last season.
“We were devoid of big plays last year,” Neuheisel said. “If we can create some big plays early, it will give us the confidence to make then.”
That remains a potential at the moment. But linebacker Reggie Carter has liked what he has seen in Prince.
“He doesn’t move around a lot and he doesn’t flinch,” Carter said. “He stays in the pocket and he makes the right decision. If it’s there, he throws it, if it’s not, he keeps it. That’s all I need. I don’t want him to throw the ball to other people. As long as somebody on our team has the ball, I’m happy.”
That would be an upgrade.
Sunday: Running backs
-- Chris Foster
Photo: UCLA's Kevin Prince participates in drills while offensive coordinator Norm Chow, left, and Head Coach Rick Neuheisel look on. Credit: Lori Shepler / Los Angeles Times