CORVALLIS, ORE. – For a guy whose major knock has been his play-execution skills, on Saturday afternoon junior Richard Brehaut was a better game manager than a Nintendo executive.
While throwing just 11 times – completing seven passes for 146 yards and a touchdown – Brehaut helped call an offense that gained 211 rushing yards, improving in his check-downs and audibles in UCLA’s 27-19 win over Oregon State.
He shined especially during an early second-quarter touchdown drive, moving the ball 46 yards on seven plays following a Sean Westgate interception of a Sean Mannion pass. On 2nd-and-4 from the Oregon State 13-yard line, Brehaut saw the Beavers stacked right and checked down to an inside handoff in the left gap to Derrick Coleman, who picked up eight yards.
On the next play, Brehaut read the defensive end closing in and kept it himself, breaking through the interior for a five-yard touchdown run.
“I’ve always thought that the more experience I have, the better I have to get at managing the game and making smart decisions with the ball,” Brehaut said. “We had a play call to the right, they overloaded that side, and I checked inside zone left and we were able to get the first to Derrick. Then it was a zone read on the next play, the end crashed down, I kept it and got in end zone.”
Those were the issues that kept coming up for head coach Rick Neuheisel during Brehaut’s preseason quarterback competition with Kevin Prince, which Prince ultimately won. But the Crespi grad went down early in Week 1 against Houston, missed the following week’s 27-17 win over San Jose State and returned for a horrid start last week against Texas, throwing three first-quarter interceptions.
Brehaut was named the starter on Sunday night, but it was a tenuous hold, Neuheisel saying that it was going to be week-to-week going forward. Neuheisel lauded Brehaut for his play Saturday, though, saying “he prepared excellently and I thought his execution today was spot on.”
Neuheisel said that the team was going to stick with its running identity – “We have games to win, and we have to use a formula that guys us best chance to be successful; that’s who we are” – but the Bruins might need to open it up more next week to keep up with a prolific Stanford offense that has scored 138 points in three weeks behind all-world quarterback Andrew Luck.
For now, Brehaut is satisfied with the win, and his management within it.
“Absolutely, 100 percent,” Brehaut said. “If we’re coming out 1-0 and winning the game, I’d rather throw 11 times and come out with a ‘W’ than throw it – say like Arizona State (last season) 56 times – and come out with a loss.”