Freshman Football Focus

Talk about a striking contradiction: UCLA has one quarterback who has had plenty of attempts but wants to throw the ball more, and another quarterback who has had scarce opportunities but wants to hand the ball off.

As the Bruins prepared for today’s 1 p.m. showdown at Oregon State’s Reser Stadium this week, redshirt freshman quarterback Kevin Prince and true freshman quarterback Richard Brehaut each got their fair share of repetitions with the starting unit.
Despite sharing time, though, they did not share focuses.

Prince is looking to take more chances, to bring some bravado to the position, to risk failure while knowing that an interception does not mean a demotion. He is trying to discover that “gunslinger” mentality only shared by the legends, those who are willing to gamble to be great.

“Growing up, I was kind of more tentative, and my stats would show that,” Prince said. “If you look at my high school stuff, I didn’t really go downfield unless it was there. But my favorite quarterback of all-time has been Brett Favre, and that’s what I love about him. That’s something I’ve tried to slowly get myself into.”

He’ll need to speed up the process.

Prince’s longest completion against Cal went for 48 yards. His longest against San Diego State, 34 yards. It plummets from there. Arizona: 21 yards. Tennessee: 14 yards. Oregon: 11 yards.

Either because of dropped passes or poor routes or simply Prince not testing himself downfield, the Bruins have not stretched defenses more than a few feet.
Case in point: Before being pulled for senior Kevin Craft against the Wildcats, Prince settled for a two-yard completion on 3rd-and-10 at the Arizona 17-yard line. Yes, UCLA came out with three points via a Kai Forbath field goal.
No, three points is not good enough.

“It’s tough to go out there and do it when so much is on the line, but you have to take that risk sometimes,” Prince said. “It’s something I’m trying to develop, that gunslinger attitude. I want to get the ball downfield and make big plays.”

Brehaut, meanwhile, isn’t so worried about the big play, but the little one.

With an arm only matched by his swagger, Brehaut is expected to enter a contest in the first half for the first time this season. He has played in three games this season, completing 9-of-15 passes for 114 yards for an average of 7.6 yards per attempt – Prince’s YPA is 5.5 – but he has yet to play in the first half.

After UCLA head coach Rick Neuheisel virtually guaranteed that Brehaut would get meaningful reps against Oregon State, the freshman quarterback went about the week of practice eager to simply run a standard offense for the first time.

Imagine it: A gunslinger who wants to keep it holstered.

“Every time I’ve gone in, I’ve gone out there and just been slinging the rock all around,” Brehaut said. “But I haven’t really had a chance to go through the whole game plan and have my run checks. Every time I’ve gone in, we’ve been down so I’ve been throwing the ball. I think defenses were keying on that, and that’s why I’ve struggled a little bit. They were just bringing guys.
“Now I can go in there and move the chains not just throwing the ball, but make my run checks.”

That doesn’t mean Brehaut won’t take chances if they are there, though.
He can chuck it with the rest of them.

He just wants to prove that he can lead an offense in the little things, too.

“When you know what you’re doing and what the defense is doing, you can let your athletic ability take over and just play,” Brehaut said. “I’ve always gone out there and my goal has been to have fun. I can’t play all uptight and worry about making mistakes. You should be able to go out there and just let it fly.”

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  • Anonymous

    Jon,

    Did he give you a soul-piercing look?

  • Reformed Droog

    Can’t hurt. At least now the turnovers will occur further downfield, right?