Let's start this week by checking in with our starter: Kevin Prince. Per the report in LAT today CRN said that Prince "was cleared pretty quickly" by the "training staff report." Prince will go through some "exertion test" tomorrow and per CRN's words the training staff thinks "he will be ready." Prince looked all right when he was walking around the sidelines after half time on Saturday. He didn't sound too worried about his status for next week after the game. From the Press Enterprise:
Prince was kept on the sideline with what he called a minor concussion.
"I was dizzy, drowsy, kind of a little sensitive to light and stuff," said Prince, who was wearing a mouth guard.
Remember, Prince's jaw was fractured when he was sacked late in a victory over Tennessee in the second game of the season. That kept him out for a couple weeks and seemed to hinder his progress.
He sounded as assured as he could that he'd be ready to play at Washington State next Saturday.
"Absolutely," Prince said when asked about that game. "I'll be fine."
In his limited time, he passed for 212 yards and a touchdown and connected on 13 of his 17 attempts.
I think UCLA staff should make sure they exercise as much caution as possible with Prince. He has taken some vicious hits this year. I want him to see out there on Saturday but I will totally understand if our training staff and coaches decide to keep him out for one week. Meanwhile, from now till the end of the season perhaps Kevin should be putting in some extra time in practice working on his slide. Running head first for extra couple of yards was not a smart move on his part, particularly now that he is emerging as the clear starter of this football team.
Even if Prince cannot go after Saturday's performance, UCLA coaches should feel pretty confident about going with Kevin Prince. Chris Foster from the LA Time reports how the senior quarterback is having a memorable season in Westwood and might stay plugged in with Chow's offense even after his graduation:
Craft's hand prints -- and hand signals -- are all over the Bruins' season. He has been a mentor to Prince and Brehaut, with the idea of remaining as a graduate assistant being discussed.
Craft is also responsible for the way the Bruins signal plays onto the field, something he and Prince were asked to develop after the San Diego State game.
"The terminology we were using was so long that the receivers were having trouble remembering it," offensive coordinator Norm Chow said. "I sent Kevin and Kevin home that Sunday to come up with a system to signal in the formations."
The two did, with Craft taking the lead. He had studied sign language as his foreign language in high school, and continued to take courses in it at San Diego State. He mixed elements of that with signals that almost mimicked the formation.
"We went through every single formation that Monday night," Craft said. "I would say, 'What about this?' and Kevin would make suggestions."
Soon after, the Bruins had a system. Whether his code could be cracked by opponents doesn't matter, Craft said: "We run 10 plays out of each formation, so it wouldn't help." The receivers still run the plays in from the sideline.
"We use a little bit of the sign language, along with some hand signals that make things easy to remember," Craft said. "It's just easier to do it this way. A lot times when they sent in receivers with the call, things got jumbled."
Ryan described the scene immediately after the game ended showing how tight the quarterbacks are with each other at UCLA:
As soon as Craft took the final knee, Prince and Crissman took off in a dead sprint for him, with Brehaut not far behind once he got all his cords off of him. They had a huge group hug out there on the field, celebrating the win. It was great to see.
It's another scene that should make you LOL next time you read some local reporter try to weave the storyline of Neuheisel losing control of this program. I don't think it's a coincidence that these guys despite what they have been through are so resilient and close together as a unit. No doubt in my mind they are taking their cues from the leader of their program.
Prince (before he went out) and Craft were not the only players having fun on offense on Saturday. Milton Knox's performance from the Wildcat formation has lot of people buzzing:
"It's fun to do that, to come out and make big plays," Knox said. "It wasn't that hard for me to adjust to it. Naturally I'm a running back, but I played a little backup quarterback in high school. When (offensive coordinator Norm Chow) asked me if I could run it, I said sure.
"It helps this team put a little swagger into the offense."
Now comes the hard part, besides the name: figuring out how to introduce the passing element into the complex offense, which was popularized in the NFL by Miami Dolphins running back Ronnie Brown, who threw a 1-yard touchdown pass out of the wildcat on Sunday in the Dolphins' 27-17 loss to New England.
"The wildcat is in vogue right now because it evens the number out," Neuheisel said. "But you have to be versatile in it to last a long time. We'll see if now we can muster up some throwing game out of it."
I think sooner or later though Milton will have to throw it. That's the only way the coaches will be able to ensure that formation keeps producing results. It was awesome to see Milton get loose though. Hopefully it will give him more confidence when lining up in regular formation. However, we'd definitely would love to see some more of it next weekend and perhaps Knox will get a chance to throw out of it.
It was definitely an interesting feeling on Saturday. Especially early on after every offensive score I had the feeling of not being able to wait till next time our offense took the feel. I hadn't felt that sense of anticipation with our offense since the 1999 (2005 doesn't count because our offense would just lollygagg for three quarters until 2LiveDrew did their thing in the 4th).
Our offense is showing the signs of its potential of turning into a machine. Right now the biggest issues around it are stupid penalties and fumbles. Think about it. I think we have had something like 8 fumbles in our last 4 games. If we hadn't fumbled the ball 4 times in firsrt half against Oregon State, the offensive production would have been much different. Same goes with the fumbles from Saturday. We have to clean up those mistakes. If we can do that the offense look even more sharper.
The game against Washington State is not going to be easy. Those guys are going to treat the UCLA game as one of their two winnable games (Washington being the other one) of the season. So they will bring everything they have on both sides of the field. Our team will need to be locked in and treat it like an elimination game. Hopefully they can put together a clean performance both on offense and defense setting up a huge senior day at the Rose Bowl. However, before we get too ahead of ourselves (even though I understand the excitement), we need to get it done on Saturday.