Prince gets the start against Houston. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
Just a little while ago Coach Rick Neuheisel officially named Kevin Prince his starting quarterbackk for the Houston game today. From UCLA Athletics Twitter feed:
Kevin Prince to start against Houston, but Bruins will use both QBs during the game
We have had extensive discussions on the QB competition that took place out at Spaulding this pre-season. If you have been under a rock last few weeks you can catch up with all the background on this by going here, here, and here. You can actually see the stream of our posts (stories, fanposts, and fanshots) by going through "UCLA quarterbacks" tag here.
Basically while some media hacks with agendas (cough***Adam Maya***) incessantly concern trolled about a "QB controversy" in recent weeks, the competition IMO has nothing but a healthy but welcome development for the Bruin program. To their credit both QBs - Kevin Prince and Richard Brehaut - embraced the competition.
Brehaut gets lots of ups for coming to the camp fully prepared and giving Prince a serious run for the starting spot, making the coaches think about the decision. Meanwhile, Prince to his credit, instead of whining like an entitled starter, took the challenge in stride and worked harder for the starting slot. As a result, the Bruins appear to have (hopefully) two prepared QBs and rising freshman heading into the Houston game. No wonder Peter Yoon noted earlier today that the way QB competition shaped up, "served it's purpose" during the pre-season camp. Bruins now have options:
"I've got a lot of options," Neuheisel said.
And for that, he said, he can thank the camp-long competiton.
"There is nothing like competition to force the hand," he said. "As long as you are fighting and scratching and clawing to earn something, you’re going to do everything. You’re going to turn over every stone. We’re not there yet. We’re not perfect yet and I don’t know if we’ll ever be perfect, but we’re going to strive for that. We’re going to look for that perfect day."
As mentioned before, Coach Neuheisel had number of good arguments to go with Prince against Houston. One of the main ones was Prince's experience on the road, which includes big wins in front of huge crowds at daunting venues in Knoxville and Austin. Now, the cool thing for UCLA is given Brehaut's preparation and better focus this fall, Coach Neuheisel will most likely not hesitate to go insert the true junior into the game, if he feels like he needs to go with a different look or bring a different dimension to our offense.
There was another tactical advantage to UCLA naming its starter around middle of game week. Let me get into that after the jump.
For those regularly following our Bruins the starter's name was not much of a surprise. However, there was another tactical benefit for Neuheisel naming the starter this late. Basically the Cougars have been somewhat in the dark about UCLA's offensive game plan for this upcoming Saturday. Last year's Rose Bowl game film is not going to be all that helpful, as Neuheisel has been working with a brand new OC - Mike Johnson - and his RB coach Jim Mastro to put in plans for what we are hoping to be revamped offense.
Add into this uncertainty around UCLA's offense, there is a little gamesmanship going on here from Coach Neuheisel in an effort to keep the Cougars guessing. Of course he downplayed it in his public comments after practice today. However, I think there is a good reason for him to keep Houston guessing about who is going to be our QB. Houston like all other NCAA teams is limited to 20 hours of practice for every game week under NCAA rules. The longer UCLA went without announcing a starting QB, the longer it cut into Cougars' day to day game planning and practice this week. So while reporters have been whining and obsessing about who is going to be our QB, Neuheisel's roster management here at least on paper could give the Bruins a tactical upper hand.
Now whether or not this advantage will show up on game day is another story. :-) I cannot wait to find out the answer. Is it Saturday yet?
UPDATE (N): The official site has comments from Coach Neuheisel:
"I wanted to create competition during camp and I wanted to give both kids an ample opportunity to win the job," said coach Neuheisel. "Having done that, it was too close to call and I believe that both deserve to play; Kevin will start."
"Both quarterbacks have experience and I feel that both have the team's confidence. The competition will continue though. Having been in this position myself, I will not ask anyone to diminish their goals to be the one and only quarterback at UCLA. Until one separates from the other, both deserve the chance to play. I feel they each bring something valuable to the table for this team."
"I want to compliment both of these young men on how they have handled this situation. They have each continued to support the other throughout and I believe that will continue."
" ... like coach has said, Richard has done a great job in camp and deserves a chance. Both of us have split reps during most of camp. It is a decision we both knew was possible. We are in this for the team and coach feels this gives the team the best chance for success .
"Both of us have competed for the job and have played well. We both have experience and have played in big games. As long as this helps the team to win, I am all for it."
Big ups again to both Prince and Brehaut for showing so much class through all this. Full release here.