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Spaulding Roundup: QB/OL Notes

Bruins now have a bye week to refocus and to continue to work on the issues that have plagued them all season. At this point, it is unclear to me exactly what can the coaches do to fix our two main problems – QB and OL - holding back our offense. Yet, the coaches will keep trying. Dohn has CRN’s analysis of Craft’s weekend performance:

"I think if we go back and we really studied where he throws the ball on a particular throw, it's a high propensity to go to the same person, regardless of what the defense is," Neuheisel said. "And those are the things that we have to keep pounding on him about, because he's very adept in terms of knowing what our offense is calling for, and what we need."

Craft was 13 of 22 for 135 yards, but did not throw a touchdown against what was statistically the worst passing defense in the nation. Opposing quarterbacks against Washington have had a passing efficiency rating of 174.25, last among the 119 Football Bowl Subdivision teams.

Craft, a junior who is in his first season as UCLA's starter, has thrown 16 interceptions compared to seven touchdowns this season. He also has nine interceptions and no touchdowns in UCLA's past three games.

Neuheisel said a first-quarter interception was an inaccurate pass, a second-quarter pick was forced into coverage and a third-quarter interception was a misread in which Craft thought Washington was playing man-to-man defense, but really was in zone.

"The third one was just a radical pre-determination," Neuheisel said. "He threw the ball where only the defense had a chance to catch it."

When asked if such mistakes should still be a factor in the 10 th game of the season, Neuheisel said, "No, it shouldn't be, and we've got to keep working to fix it."

Given what we have seen to date, I think it’s clear these last two (hopefully three) games this year with Craft’s audition for the starting job next year. It’s clear to me that the coaches have reached the same conclusion on Chris Forcier as they had done on Osaar Rasshan. Those are two outstanding athletes playing out of position. This week’s QB competition will be between Craft, Prince and perhaps Brehaut. But if I were to bet, I think Prince has a very good shot at emerging as the starter for 09-10 season. I think due to the fact that Prince has been in the program for more than year under Chow will give him a head start. Sitting out this year probably has given him the opportunity to get stronger as well after he missed most of his high school senior year due to injury. Nick Crissman is out there but he is going to be recovering from a shoulder surgery. As for Brehaut, I think its great that he is coming in early this spring, but it will be tough for him to break in immediately as a starter. Hope he comes in with the mindset of being patient and in a learning mode under Chow and Neuheisel. Spring is going to be very interesting at Spaulding to say the least.

While CRN and Chow will be working with Craft, they are also going to be dealing with an OL which will go through more reshuffling due to Savage’s season ending injury:

[U]CLA will likely use its bye week to find a replacement for Savage over the final two games. Glicksberg, Sonny Tevaga and Brandon Bennett are all possibilities.

UCLA coach Rick Neuheisel also said that the coaching staff was considering moving Micah Reed from center back to guard and letting Jake Dean maintain the starting center spot for the remainder of the season.

It is expected that Savage will be in a cast for six weeks and then have nearly two months of rehab. It is not known how it will affect his training for the track and field season.

Savage is an elite-level thrower whose personal best in the discus would have left him a foot shy of being an Olympic finalist this year and he has made it no secret of his desire to compete in the 2012 London Games.

Savage’s absence could open up a door for Tevaga but CRN has laid out a condition for his return to the program:

"He just needs to be committed," Neuheisel said. "The level of commitment in this program has to be such that no one can doubt it."

Makes sense to me.

As for other personnel notes, here is the injury news from the LAT:

In another injury from the Washington game, defensive tackle Brian Price strained a hamstring and could miss some practice. He is expected to play against Arizona State.

Quarterback Ben Olson, who did not travel to Washington, will meet with Neuheisel today after seeing a specialist on Friday to check the lingering soreness in his foot.

Should be interesting to see what transpires during practices till next Friday. I wonder if Olson will be getting lot more reps with the second team and travel as the back up QB to Tempe next week. Guess we will have to stay tuned.