So UCLA football news has been hard to come by these days, mainly because it’s the dead period between the end of recruiting season and before UCLA’s Spring Practice begins. Basically, our thumbs are up our you-know-whats while our UCLA basketball squad, well, also has their thumbs up their you-know-whats.
So to get us a little excited for the 2012 college football season, we thought we’d discuss the competition at the most exciting and arguably one of the most important positions in the sport of football: the quarterback.
You know, the position that’s plagued us for years, while guys like Kevin Prince and Richard Brehaut have massively underperformed in their tenures as Bruins. Yeah, that position.
Well, things look slightly — only slightly, since it’s so premature — better these days. In addition to Richard Brehaut and Kevin Prince being a little more motivated this season due to the fact that they’re seniors, Brett Hundley will finally get a shot to compete for the starting spot while incoming freshmen Devin Fuller and T.J. Millweard will have a chance to prove they deserve a shot at starting, forgoing a redshirt season.
So first, let’s look back at how our QBs did last season:
Kevin Prince. 2011 stats: 56% completion percentage, 1828 yards, 12 passing touchdowns, eight interceptions, 424 rushing yards
Prince’s season was much like our Bruins’ entire season — inconsistent as hell, with some really, really bright spots to combat his incredible incompetence. The key for Prince — and, again, for the rest of the team, it seems — was playing at home. Although the game against Texas saw Prince stink the Rose Bowl up — I was in the student section, and I smelled that crap from up there — he had a strong outing in Pasadena ever since, especially after Rick Neuheisel stopped limiting Prince and let him run. Prince’s inability to throw made it difficult and frustrating for receivers like Nelson Rosario and Joseph Fauria, who had beaten defenders but never got the ball in their hands because Prince was, even during his awesome games, horrifyingly inaccurate.
Richard Brehaut. 2011 stats: 55% completion percentage, 948 yards, six touchdowns, one interception
Richard Brehaut, despite his lower completion rate, looked a lot more accurate than Kevin Prince, whom he had replaced after Prince’s terrible start against Texas (the dude threw three interceptions before I could even get settled into my damn seat). The games Brehaut played in post-Prince’s benching seemed as if Brehaut had a legitimate shot at becoming the starter for the rest of the season. No, he wasn’t on track to have an incredible season or anything, but he was playing, for the most part, mistake-free football (where as Kevin Prince apparently ate Butterfingers before every game). Brehaut didn’t run as much as Prince did — and that running ability helped UCLA to a 5-1 home record, for sure — but that’s simply because he couldn’t. Brehaut seemed a hell of a lot more immobile last season than Prince. Brehaut then got screwed from his not-bad season by breaking a leg … literally.
Now that we got that out of the way, let’s look into the future:
Brehaut vs. Prince:
All things considered, Brehaut would get the nod if it came down to these two, not because Prince is terrible — although he kind of is — but because Brehaut is a better fit for UCLA OC Noel Mazzone’s offense, which prefers a conventional, pocket-sitting QB (he coached Philip Rivers and Brock Osweiler, for Pete’s sake!), and Brehaut is definitely the purer passer. Prince, I don’t think, has much of a shot to start his senior year or, hell, even get playing time. Mazzone’s offense rarely sees QB draws or options. In fact, I’d only take Prince if he gives us more of his “where the f*** am I?” faces:
Devin Fuller vs. T.J. Millweard vs. Brett Hundley
It’s super tempting to say T.J. Millweard has a better chance at getting a starting nod than any of the other non-2011-starters. Why? Because this dude is the prototypical Noel Mazzone QB. He’s a big dude at 6’4” and he is definitely a conventional pocket QB who has some serious height. His biggest knock? He doesn’t have a really stupid throwing motion like all other Mazzone QBs.
Devin Fuller was an interesting signing; you never want to turn away the second- or third-best QB in the country, but Fuller isn’t exactly the best fit. We’re glad to have him, but you have to wonder how Mazzone will adjust to having a 5’10” QB whose strong-point is running? The dude’s fast, and he’s got a decent arm, but will his mobility hurt his chances at starting?
And then there’s Brett Hundley, the 2011′er who is coming off his redshirt season, who is more all-around than either Fuller or Millweard. All scouting reports indicate that he’s able to be a pocket-passer just as he’s able to scramble and gain yards with his legs. But with scrambling QBs in an offense that sees stay-at-home QBs succeed the most can often struggle.
If I had to pick the starter between these three? It’s Hundley, although Millweard is definitely tempting.
The projected two finalists: Brett Hundley vs. Richard Brehaut
Brett Hundley’s been itching to get on to the field, and Richard Brehaut’s had his chance; if it weren’t for a leg injury in the middle of last season, he may be the favorite heading into spring practice. Of course, the good thing is, Jim Mora has already gone on record saying every position — including and especially the quarterback position — is up for grabs, meaning we’ll get an objective approach to figuring out who will be under center this September.