Reading press reports from last two days it sounds like Kevin Craft is ahead of Chris Forcier in the on going QB competition. However, that doesn’t mean we should stop paying attention to Forcier. As Neuheisel told the OC Register:
Coach Rick Neuheisel insists there still is time for redshirt freshman Chris Forcier to catch up.
"You can't trust him yet, but to his credit, when he goes out there he does make good things happen," Neuheisel said of Forcier.
"He's not out of it by any stretch of the imagination."
As we have mentioned before this is a kid who was a pretty decorated recruit out of high school and made a name for himself as one of the better dual threat QBs in the country. While Craft is gaining an edge using his experience from D-1 (
[D]espite still escaping at the first sign of trouble this fall, he [Chris Forcier – Ed.] said he is making a conscious effort to remain where he should and let the play develop and trust that his linemen will block for him.
"His instincts are to go out because that's where he can be a playmaker," UCLA coach Rick Neuheisel said. "It's like going on a fast break instead of running the set offense.
"He has to realize that the first sign of color in an A-gap doesn't mean it won't get blocked. His eyes are still looking at the blocking scheme."
As a senior at San Diego St. Augustine High, Forcier ran for 631 yards and 10 touchdowns and was rated the No. 7 dual-threat quarterback nationally by rivals.com following his senior season. He is one of the fastest players on the roster but said he understands his head and his arm must be his first weapons.
"Once in a while I will get over my head and flush out of the pocket when I really don't need to," Forcier said. "But that's when Coach Chow bites on me. He harps on me about it and I try and focus and not do it.
"The most difficult part about it is learning to trust your line. Most of the time it's better to stay in the pocket and let the play work out for itself."
As I have written before Forcier’s speed is intriguing to me. I haven’t seen him or Craft in action. But I can’t help envision number 18 running a bootleg without any fear of collision with an incoming linebacker or safety, whenever I read about Forcier’s speed. However, Forcier and rest of us need to be patient, as Neuheisel and Chow work on him and other QBs on a day by day basis in their attempt to create total quarterbacks at UCLA. Don’t forget Craft is pretty mobile too (as attested by DeWayne Walker). In Chow’s system he doesn’t need his QB to run like a rocket, he needs his QB to have enough speed so that he will provide some options in moving the chains for a first down and getting a fresh new set of downs to work with.
Forcier (along with Craft and other QBs in our depth chart) need to get in the mindset of not feeling the pressure to come up with big plays in every down, but instead put themselves in position so they can pick 4 to 6 yards on a play by play basis. That means as Neuheisel having enough trust in his OL to let the play develop for few split seconds while decide to look for open receivers or run for yardage depending on the situation.
So that requires Forcier (and his team-mates) to be patient and composed as the QB in Chow’s offense. And that goes for not just being patient on the field, but also for the long terms in terms of waiting for his opportunity in Westwood.
Particularly given the recent history of QBs going down at UCLA, Forcier (along with Rasshan, Prince and Crissman) needs to be mentally ready to step in no matter how the QB competition plays out over next few days:
Learning Under Chow (OR was not in full pad due to injury): Photo Credit: dabruins07's photostream (flickr)
Hopefully Forcier and his team-mates will continue to chip away, listen to their coaches, and work with them to find a way not to use their talents to optimize their game by using their talent to the fullest extent.