On Thursday’s practice:
“I’m very excited about the way we practiced today. This is what we needed. I feel much better about the week, and very excited to practice Sunday. We’re 0-0, we start a new season, and we’re eager to get off to a good start.”
On winning the Pac-10:
“When you’re at UCLA, and you walk into a hall of fame that has 103 national championship trophies, you can’t become part of that scene until you win a Pac-10 championship. That season starts this next weekend.”
On Christian Ramirez’ recovery:
“We had him in a little scrimmage, got him some live action there at the end, and I hope he’s ok. He got up a little hobbled there. He’s got to start playing through that.”
On Gavin Ketchum’s recovery:
“He’s getting there. It’s been a while. He doesn’t seem right now willing to explode out of it. But that’s why this bye week is so important.”
On Kevin Prince losing weight with a broken jaw:
“He’s a put together kid. He’s been working out. He’s been running. He’ll be fine.”
On the battle at cornerback with Aaron Hester down:
“Sheldon Price is now competing, and Courtney has to win that job back from him. Sheldon has had the job. We’ll have plenty more opportunities the next couple weeks to see who’s ready to play.”
On if the Prince injury should have been called a helmet-to-helmet penalty:
“I play linebacker, so I hope they never throw that flag. The hardest part of your equipment is a piece of steal, your facemask. I’m leading with my facemask every time. If you catch me, you catch me. But it didn’t look like it was that bad of a hit.”
On UCLA’s quarterback health issues:
“Wow, they do go down every year. I think this year we’re a close team, were tight, we tell the offense regardless of who’s back there, we’re going to play our game. We should be fine, we’re not going to let them score too many points.”
On confidence with Prince gone:
“If they don’t score, regardless how many picks our quarterback throws, it doesn’t matter. I don’t know if it will give us something more; maybe it’ll be motivation, more fuel to the fire. Maybe we have to play great now because our quarterback is down.”
On Kevin Prince’s injury:
“It hurt my feelings. It really hurt my feelings. I asked him if I could play still. He said, no they had to wire his mouth shut. I said just don’t get hit. I told him we’d hold it down for him until he got back.”
On the defensive performance:
“We played a tough and strong game, but had a few mental errors. It’s still game two and there’s room to get better. But 208 yards of total offense you can’t be too mad. After watching Tennessee’s first game and they had 380 yards rushing, for us to hold them to 208 total yards in Tennessee, in front of 102,000 people, it was great.”
On defensive coordinator Chuck Bullough’s game plan:
It was big. He had us watching tape and schemed them up great. He was confident that they would stick to their game plan. Everybody did their job. They kind of came out and gave us what we expected, and we played to it.
I just checked my voicemail, where I heard these exact words:
Check your email.
Prince has a fractured jaw, and is out 3-4 weeks.
Here’s what the email said…
KEVIN PRINCE TO MISS THREE TO FOUR WEEKS WITH FRACTURED JAW
UCLA redshirt freshman quarterback Kevin Prince has a fractured jaw and will be out three to four weeks, head coach Rick Neuheisel announced today.
Prince was injured late in the 19-15 win at Tennessee when he was hit on a third-down play in the Bruins’ end zone. He returned only to kneel on the final two snaps of the win.
He was examined in the locker room after the game and returned to Los Angeles with the team. He had x-rays this morning that confirmed the fracture on the right side of his jaw. His jaw will be wired shut to assist with the healing process.
“This is a tough blow for Kevin and for our football team,” said Neuheisel. “We hope Kevin recovers quickly but we have other talented quarterbacks in our program. We have confidence in all of our quarterbacks and we will get them ready to lead us against Kansas State this Saturday.”
Cory Paus remembers his first road game like it was yesterday.
And he has some words of advice for Kevin Prince, who’s first road game is tomorrow.
“All I would tell him is stick to what you know,” said Paus, who started seven games as a redshirt freshman and split time in two others. “Pay attention. Focus. Believe it. Listen to your coaches.”
And it’s not like Paus’ first road game was at Utah State.
In Week 2 of 1999, the Bruins travelled to Ohio State. Or more appropriately, most of the Bruins travelled to the Horseshoe. UCLA had nine starters and four backups out of the game because of either injury or suspension.
But Paus played, and he wishes he still was.
“It was a feeling that you constantly try to replicate,” Paus said. “I may never be able to. Any situation after football doesn’t compare to having a 100,000 people watching. A hundred thousand people aren’t showing up to watch me close a deal. That’s the biggest thing I miss. There’s no way to compare to that.”
Paus said he listened to Prince on the radio this week talk about the big game, and while he has not sat down and spoken with the young quarterback – they’ve exchanged pleasantries but no more than a quick hello – he believes Prince is ready for the game.
Or, rather, as ready as he will be.
“I listened to Prince on the radio this week – and Matt Barkley as well – and I agree with them; you can’t prepare for this,” said Paus, who now works in insurance. “There’s no way to pipe in enough music, no way to make it even closely resemble what it’s like to be on that field with people screaming and wanting to kill you. Hopefully, the preparation is there so people know what to do things with their eyes closed.
If the prep is there, it doesn’t matter how loud it is.”
Long ago, Rick Neuheisel realized he had two good quarterbacks competing for one job, and that one was a redshirt freshman and one was a true freshman.
Long ago, Rick Neuheisel realized he had the luxury of holding one of the two back a year, keeping Richard Brehaut’s redshirt, putting him a year behind Kevin Prince in eligibility.
Long ago, Rick Neuheisel realized he would not.
What seemed like a hasty decision, giving Brehaut reps in Saturday’s 33-14 victory over San Diego State, was actually well-thought out and debated over.
“I made it well before the game,” Neuheisel said. “I made up my mind that he’s too good of a player, and we’re going to keep him coming along. I just believe that good things are in store for him. We’ll try to get him in the game as often as we can.”
Added Norm Chow: “I don’t think we burned any redshirt year. We need him to play, we need him to get experience. You never know when you’re going to need a guy.”
Early last week, Brehaut was told he would be called upon if the time came during the season opener, that he would not simply ride the pine this decision because he could.
“It’s been an ongoing situation,” said Brehaut, Scout.com’s No. 9 recruit out of Los Osos High. “(Neuheisel) never told me straight up I’m not redshirting. You never know with the quarterback situation how things are going to go, if guys are going to get hurt. He’s always told me, ‘Stay ready, if I can get you in the game, I’m going to.’ The opportunity came about, and luckily I was prepared.”
Brehaut entered the game with just less than five minutes to play and connected on both of his passes for 39 yards, including a 30-yard pass to Nelson Rosario.
Brehaut said he was well-prepared, having been informed of his possible playing time early. He went about his business in practice all week, just as he has done throughout camp, with the possibility of a redshirt looming overhead.
“I knew in the middle of the week last week,” Brehaut said. “I don’t think it changed my approach. I’ve always been working out here like I’m the one guy. If something happens and I’m that No. 1 guy, I need to be ready. You never know what can happen. What if KP went down? What if Kevin Craft goes down? Then I’m in there like Craft last year. I have to prepare, no matter where I am on the depth chart.”
The decision is not without its controversy, though.
Brehaut came to Westwood as a highly touted recruit, and after Prince won the starting job, it seemed clear that the newcomer would redshirt. Now, though, the two will compete for playing time throughout their careers at UCLA.
“I have to realize that I always have to put in that work,” Brehaut said. “Kev knows his stuff. He got that redshirt where he knows everything down pat. I just have to work extra hard to make sure we can keep that competition up. If we are both at that high level, it’s only going to be better for the position.”
In the meantime, Brehaut will take any opportunity he can get.
“Right now, no, I don’t think I have to catch up,” Brehaut said. “(Prince is) above the bar a little bit on me. I have a base for all the schemes. But I have to get better at the little details, with every single thing I have to do.”
On escaping the media for a long shower:
“You recognize that there are a lot of people in the stands and you’re on TV, but you go out and play FB. When everyone’s away and you’re alone, I like to go back to being a normal guy. But you have to relish it.”
On his performance:
“I’m really happy with the way I came out. I started throwing the ball early and got some completions under my belt, and I think it helped a lot during the game. Second half, I just made some poor throws, poor decisions. I’ll watch the tape and learn from it, just grow from it. This is my first college start, and I think I’ll get a lot of good out of it.”
On the 25-yard pass to Taylor Embree on the team’s first possession:
“It was a relief – third-down conversions are huge for an offense, to be able to convert was a big boost of confidence. When we got going on the drive, you do it all the time, but there’s always that seed of doubt because we’re not going full speed. When you do it against another team, you’re confidence gets built.”
One play after a snap for the second time, UCLA QB Kevin Prince found Taylor Embree across the middle for a 34-yard gain. On the next play, Prince lofted a fade to Terrence Austin in the back of the end zone, giving UCLA the 23-14 lead.
On a potential rivalry with USC freshman quarterback Matt Barkley:
“I’m not worried about comparisons or any Barkley-Prince duels. We’re just going to go play football, and I’m sure he feels the same way. He just wants to win games and lead his team to Rose Bowls and championships, just like I do. I won’t be focusing on beating Matt in any one-on-one matchup. I don’t think there’s any rivalry there.”
On what to expect with SDSU:
“It’s kind of tough to know what to expect when you get a whole new coaching staff. Usually you get to watch last year’s game film. This year, we’re not really sure about their whole personnel. We’re preparing for everything.”
On what UCLA is focusing on in game films:
“Right now, we’re worried about schemes. I feel like we have a good game plan, a variety of plays that can match the plays they’ll possibly run.”
UCLA got after it on Tuesday morning, with Rick Neuheisel unafraid to get in his players’ faces. There was much 7-on-7 work as the Bruins try to absorb the schemes thrown at them, but there was also plenty of scrimmage.
I spoke with Neuheisel, Kevin Prince, Brian Price, Korey Bosworth and Norm Chow, and I’ll have that in a moment. Stay tuned.