A day after saying on a conference call with reporters that he planned on putting the quarterback position back up for competition, UCLA head coach said that sophomore Kevin Prince would start against Houston on Saturday at the Rose Bowl.
“He’s our starter; that’s my plan,” Neuheisel said during his Monday press conference. “Richard Brehaut is going to continue to compete and continue to be ready. I think he’s made positive strides. But right now, Kevin Prince is still ahead in terms of managing our offense.”
Prince has struggled in two games for the Bruins, who fell to 0-2 with Saturday’s 35-0 loss to Stanford at the Rose Bowl. Prince has completed 15-of-38 passes for 159 yards with three interceptions and two fumbles, including a ball that was ripped from his hands and returned for a touchdown by Cardinal defensive back Michael Thomas late in the third quarter.
Brehaut relieved Prince after the fumble and completed 5-of-9 passes for 42 yards in just more than a quarter, while the team gained 75 of its 233 yards. However, Brehaut was sacked once, and after leading a 51-yard drive to the Stanford 21-yard line, he threw a pass that was tipped and intercepted by Thomas Keiser.
“Let me say this about Richard, he is going to be a great quarterback,” Neuheisel said. “He’s done great things in the fall. But when he goes into games, he still has two-to-three things that happen, that he doesn’t quite have an answer as to why he let that happen. That’s not uncommon for somebody of this age, and somebody at this point in his career. Richard went in there and ran plays he ran in practice, and a couple things happened inexplicably, that I didn’t have an answer for. Neither did he. We have to keep those things from happening.”
UCLA in the Rankings
UCLA’s rankings match how bad the Bruins have looked on the field.
While the rushing game ranks a respectable 51st nationally, the other offensive stats are appalling.
The Bruins rank 111th in total offense, 115th in passing offense, 115th in scoring offense and 120th – dead last – in passing efficiency, at 68.52.
Defensively, the Bruins aren’t markedly better.
UCLA is 68th in pass defense, 75th in total defense, 102nd in scoring defense and 116th against the rush, allowing 262 yards per game, though the pass defense ranks 10th.
Despite the rocky start, Neuheisel’s renowned optimism has not yet begun to wane.
Neuheisel said he hoped for eight wins before the season, and though he seemingly has backed down from that number, he is quick to remind that the conference season is only one game deep.
“We want to compete for being in the top half of this conference,” Neuheisel said. “We need to be in the top half. We’re not throwing in the towel. We got off to a rough start. We’re in the throes of installing a new offense that has to be cultivated. Has to figure out how the yin goes with the yang. We’re not far off. I believe we can get there.”