I will readily admit I have a lot of concerns with Coach Rick Neuheisel's coaching and am not speaking for anyone else involved with BN on this post. I am troubled by CRN's mismanagement of the D-Coordinator search, his forgetting his best offense player in the second half of the USC game, being the most recent. However to me the biggest is something not often talked about.
The first rule for a solution to a problem is it should not cause a bigger problem. However, it can be argued that last year CRN's solution of going to the Pistol fixed the problem of a poor running game but hurt the offense and made the players worse.
The Team Example:
2010 UCLA rushed for 2107, 4.4 yards per carry. Good.
2010 UCLA passed for 1693 yards, 5.32 per attempt, terrible.
Total of 3800 yards.
This reversed the trend of CRN's first two years:
2009, UCLA rushed for a pathetic 1490 yards, 3.5 yards per carry
2009 UCLA passed for 2896, 6.64 per attempt
A total of 4386 yards.
2008 UCLA rushed for 993 yards, an even worse 2.6 yards per attempt.
2008 UCLA passed for 2,406, 5.56 yards per attempt
However, BN has long maintained that Dorrell left the cupboard empty and the offense line in particular was in bad shape in 2008. It seems hard to argue that the blame for 2008 lies on Dorrell.
Further, CRN and the rushing game improved in 2009, although it was still the worst non-CRN year since Karl Dorrell's first season.
CRN fixed the problem of a poor rushing game by going to the Pistol. The result was a better rushing year (the best since 2004) but a passing year so bad the official UCLA media guide's list of individual yearly leaders have more total yards each year until you go back to Cory Paus. Further in his third year, the total yards gained by CRN is worse than any year under Karl Dorrell.
The Individual Example
Kevin Prince. In 2009 Kevin Prince showed that he could be a good high major QB. He passed for over 2000 yards and had a rating of 115 despite missing a few games due to injury. He also rushed for 179 yards on a 2.6 avg. (Remember QB sacks get counted as "rushes" in college.) In 2010 his passing rating fell to 78.9 and in a rushing offense he ran for less yards with a lower average per attempt. Admittedly he would have run for more if he was not hurt so much.
But it is still distressing to see Kevin Prince seemingly get worse instead of better in his second year. In 2009 he looked like a good freshman QB. In 2010 when he was not playing hurt, he looked like a good QB to run the ball but one that should not be allowed to pass. His yards per attempt fell from 6.7 to 4.1.
Any way you look at it Prince of 2010 was not as good as Prince of 2009. Of course, one can argue that Prince was hurt much of the season in 2010 and should not have played as much as he did. I agree with the second part of that argument. Prince should not play hurt like he did in the CAL game and further should not play in games like KSU when he barely practiced before the game because of injuries. But if and when Prince is hurt, should you not go to Brehaut?
Some will argue that 2010 was Norm Chow's fault. By all reports Chow loved Prince. While CRN was Chow's boss, Chow was a legend as an offensive coordinator and it may have been hard for Rick to overrule Chow on Prince related decisions. (Some will also argue that Chow never embraced the Pistol.) There was tension between Chow and CRN.
However, Prince was hurt again this Spring, yet CRN declared that Prince would be "tough to beat" as the starting QB. And there is this recent question and answer from BN's favorite UCLA writer, the usually positive, Jon Gold, that puts the blame Chow take in further doubt. Worse, it makes things look bad for the future (empahsis mine):
2) Hi Jon, I was wondering if maybe you could do some further questioning either to Neuheisel or maybe even Brehaut himself. I've read in the OC register and heard it commented before that Neuheisel says that Brehaut needs to "shows that he wants the job more in order to win it". That comment is rather curious to me because by all indications he never missed a beat in keeping all his spring football commitments, preformed pretty strong in spring, has proven to have the respect of his teammates, is a hell of a lot more physically tough than Prince, throws a much more catchable ball in my opinion and seems to plays with a lot more "moxie" than Prince and although he has continued to be on the baseball team has made it publically and personally evident that football is his number 1 priority. This kid didn't get a fair shake with Chow the last two seasons and I personally was looking forward to a change to Brehaut at QB. What is your opinion on this matter or what do you know to be the facts? Is Brehaut just in the doghouse with Neu because of baseball and he'll never believe Brehaut wants the job because of it? Or is he just saying this stuff to keep both QB's guessing. What does Neu want Brehaut to do in order to show him that he wants the job.. Seems that he's done that to me. I would like to have more information to understand this odd situation - David Kirk
[Gold:]Your guess is as good as mine, and unfortunately, I know for a fact the quarterbacks are up in the air, too. The communication breakdowns last year between Neuheisel and Chow and Prince and Brehaut were devastating to the team, and I think by saying these kinds of quotes to the public, it leads to even more chaos. Why not just say, 'We're looking forward to seeing a healthy Kevin Prince and the competition that follows?' Why throw Brehaut under the bus? If it's some kind of motivation factor, it doesn't work. It NEVER works. I thought the handling of Brehaut would change with Chow's departure, but it hasn't. Regarding the baseball thing: The kid hit over .400 as a sophomore and junior in high school and scouts know he has talent. If he's getting jerked around in football, why not explore the baseball path? It's not like he missed any time in spring football for baseball - that was made quite clear. I just don't get how it's played in the media either.
This seems to argue the QB and therefore the offense problem is being magnified by CRN.
Regardless of where the blame lies for the last three years, the bottomline is that this CRN's team and it is not playing at an acceptable level. There are reasons for the problems but at some point you have to stop blaming Dorrell for leaving the cupboard bare and Chow or the assistants for mistakes. CRN is in charge and the buck stops with him.
CRN is in his fourth year and his seat is rightly hot. He can no longer keep the job because the last coach screwed up or the assistants caused problems. CRN needs to win now and put on a consistent good effort or his time as UCLA head coach should be over.