Let's pick up where we left off in the last post. I was talking about how we all need to be realistic with regards to our expectations with Kevin Prince. Coach Neuheisel made the same point to Brian Dohn (who I guess is getting in his last licks in the Daily News):
"We're going to have to endure some freshman-itis," Neuheisel said. "There will be some growing pains. And we're going to have to protect him better. Kevin Craft took a lot of the brunt last year and the blame, but the fact of the matter is we didn't protect him very well and he was a man among men getting up after some of the hits he took last year."
But a possible complication is Prince's lack of experience. He redshirted last season and missed all but one quarter of his senior season at Crespi because of a knee injury.
"I think there's something to it that there's going to be a learning curve," Prince said. "Playing Pac-10 football, and playing football for the first time in a couple of years - coach Chow is realistic about it."
Not just Coach Chow and Neuehisel. All UCLA fans who follow this program in an intelligent way, should be patient with Prince and the offense this coming season, keeping the big picture in mind. More after the jump.The key for Prince will be to stay as steady as possible. Reggie Carter talked about what he needed to do in the OC Register's UCLA report:
Prince was tested by the Bruins' defense during spring camp, though it was on a much smaller scale than what he'll see once the season starts. His defensive teammates harassed, chased, yelled and did everything but spit at him in an attempt to test his toughness. He passed.
"Kevin Prince is probably, as far as composure, he's probably the best quarterback I've seen," Carter said.
"If it's there, he throws it, and if it's not, he keeps it. That's all I need. If he throws it or keeps it, as long as somebody on our team has it, I'm happy."
"I saw improvement in our overall play this spring," said senior guard Nick Ekbatani. "I'm confident in us as a unit. I feel that our success as an offense hinges on our success as an offensive line. If that's the case, I believe we can be pretty successful this year."
Of course at the same time Neuehisel and Chow will be looking for Prince to strike when the opportunity is there:
"With Kevin Prince's ability, assuming he can stay healthy and be as advertised, that generates a lot of chunk offense because of his ability to get the ball down the field," Neuheisel said. "Big plays, we were devoid of them last year. If we can create some big plays early and create some confidence in big plays, all of a sudden that expands air into your offense."
I think the term "chunk offense" is going to be key for Neuheisel's UCLA team this season. Given the kind of athletes we now have on the roster such as Presley, Rosario, Carroll, hopefully the OL will generate decent amount of running game and just enough time for Prince to find those targets. And speaking of the OL, the LA Times reports that's where the competition at OL should be wide open:
Offensive line: The only thing more in need of reshaping is the U.S. auto industry. Center Kai Maiava has a role. Everyone else has to audition -- with good reason. Last season, the Bruins couldn't run block or pass block. Runners averaged 2.6 yards a carry, and quarterbacks were sacked 35 times. UCLA has seven new linemen this year and those who played last season are expected to show dramatic improvement or be shown the bench. "We have 18 offensive linemen coming to camp; we're going to find five," offensive coordinator Norm Chow said.
LOL. Chow has such a simple way of putting things in perspective.
Fun starts today at 3 pm. If you are out there, let us know how it all went.