You’ve got to hand it to Kevin Prince: the kid can handle pressure.
Perhaps not from a blitzing linebacker quite yet, perhaps not from a 21-3 deficit quite yet, but from a throng of media hounds, UCLA’s redshirt freshman quarterback was contrite and sorrowful following Oregon’s 24-10 win at the Rose Bowl on Saturday afternoon.
In his first game action since Week 2, when he suffered a fractured jaw at Tennessee with minutes left to play, Prince struggled mightily. The Crespi of Encino product misfired on his first two passes and things did not get much better, as he finished 13-of-25 for just 81 yards, fumbling once and throwing an interception that was returned for a touchdown.
After throwing consecutive passes into the hands of Duck defenders late in the third quarter, neither of which was intercepted, Prince was relieved for freshman quarterback Richard Brehaut.
He would have made the same decision.
“I wasn’t making plays,” Prince said. “They were going to try to calm me down, get me back feeling confident. And give Richard a shot, that’s only fair. I understood their decision completely. I wasn’t able to move the ball, and we just weren’t clicking as an offense. As a coach, you have to try something new.”
After Oregon’s 21-point explosion in four minutes to start the third quarter, perhaps it was a bit too little, a bit too late.
With Prince under center, the UCLA offense simply ran out of gas at times, managing nine drives of less than six plays, none leading to points.
Even when the Bruins did move the ball, as in a 6 minute, 29 second, 12-play drive in the first quarter, they could not score points, four plays within the Oregon 2-yard line coming up fruitless.
“There are little things that I’m just not getting done,” Prince said. “Making the right reads on third downs that stall drives, missing a corner, missing an easy wide-open play for a first down. Little things, you can’t do. You can’t do that and win games. I feel like I rushed things, tried to make things happen, and I wasn’t going through the right progressions.”
Prince, though, isn’t ready to throw in the towel.
He’s not about to call 2009 a rebuilding year, not after UCLA did not even call 2008 one, even mired in a 4-8 finish.
“I think it’s always been about now,” Prince said. “Coach Neuheisel made it clear last year that we weren’t going to label it a rebuilding year. That’s disrespectful to the seniors, to the guys who have been working their whole careers here at UCLA. It’s always been about now for us. That should be a wakeup call to myself. I can’t sit here and make those mistakes and keep on playing. I need to start improving now.”
Bumps and Bruises
Redshirt freshman running back Johnathan Franklin was lost midway through the second quarter with a left ankle sprain. … Sophomore Glenn Love went down with a right ankle sprain. … Senior linebacker Reggie Carter was hobbled by a left MCL sprain, but returned to the game. … Redshirt freshman running back Milton Knox was not in attendance, suffering from an undisclosed illness.
News and Notes
Kai Forbath’s 52-yard field goal in the second quarter was his eighth career 50-yard kick, extending his UCLA record. … Oregon redshirt freshman Kenyon Barner’s 100-yard return in the third quarter was the first against the Bruins since 2003. … The attendance mark of 77,819 was a Rose Bowl season-high.