Another week of practice has passed in W..."/>

Another week of practice has passed in W..."/>

Mum’s The Word in Westwood, Regarding UCLA’s QB Competition


Another week of practice has passed in Westwood. The Bruins have five more days of doubles, hundreds, if not thousands more of repetitions, and hours more of film studies under their belt. And to top it all off, there was a scrimmage Saturday night on campus. With the game against Houston only 13 days away, everything should be coming into focus, right? Well, not exactly.

Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images via Zimbio

First off, Coach Neuheisel has yet to decide on his starting Quarterback. It may not be the rarest of things for a coach to not know his QB this close to the season, but Neuheisel has been coy about the process the entire way. Most recently he has stated: “I’ll know when I know.”

If you’re looking for a prediction, I have two. First, the decision will be made by Friday. Second, I am going to go against the grain, and predict that Neuheisel will select Richard Brehaut(right) to start at Quarterback. While Kevin Prince beat him head-to-head in camp the previous two years, all reports from Westwood indicate that Brehaut has been having a better Fall. The only thing that seemed to derail Brehaut was a minor foot injury he suffered early this week, which forced him to miss a couple of days.

Neuheisel’s main priority at Saturday’s scrimmage was to keep everyone healthy. At the same time last year, Center Kai Maiava broke his ankle, which caused him to miss the entire season. Therefore, he played zero plays last night. RB Johnathan Franklin played one series. DE Datone Jones, who missed last season, played only thirteen plays. The offensive linemen played only twenty-one. Again, injury prevention was the name of the game. So when CB Aaron Hester slightly tweaked his hamstring, he was immediately pulled, even though he wanted to go back in. The team is short in the secondary, as transfer Jamie Graham figures to be out at least a month following knee surgery.

In addition to preventing injuries during the scrimmage, the Bruins seemed to want to prevent any scouting. Therefore, the 90 play scrimmage only featured 32 combined pass attempts. The receptions went to a whole host of receivers; Josh Smith, Devin Lucien, Shaq Evans, Logan Sweet, Nelson Rosario, Joseph Fauria, and Raymond Nelson each caught two passes. Smith was a nice surprise, leading the scrimmage in yardage, while the Bruins are going to need to count on Lucien, Evans, and Rosario. Last year’s leading receive, Taylor Embree, sat out with a nagging calf injury.

Even though UCLA is returning near-1300 yard rusher Johnathan Franklin, the competition at Running Back has turned out to be quite interesting. First, competing for the traditional back-up role are Derrick Coleman, Malcolm Jones, and Jordon James. In the scrimmage, Coleman carried the ball six times for 51 yards, Jones 5-34, James, 4-20. Coleman saw the majority of the carries out of this group last year, and figures to be the solid back-up again this year.

But then, we have to throw F-Back Anthony Barr(left) into the mix. Not just because he figures to get some carries, and did in fact score on a 1 yard TD in the scrimmage. But, he also took snaps at Running Back earlier in the week. It may not be a surprise that Barr played Running Back in high school, and was recruited as a running back (this all occurred before UCLA implemented the Pistol). But at 6’4”, 231 pounds, Barr may be the best athlete on the Bruins offense, and his talents may be going slightly to waste at his position. Neuheisel explained this practice as wanting to “explore all options.” With the amount of Running Backs UCLA already has, combined with Barr’s talent at the F-Back, the odds of him moving to Running Back full time are very slim. That being said, don’t be surprised to see more plays designed for Barr out of the F-Back (those plays will most likely be practiced this week, when the Bruins begin their private practices).

Finally, we have the Bruins offensive line. This unit was oft injured last year, and was forced to continuously play with patchwork lines. This year, it seems as if they have found their starting five, and can now roll with them for the two weeks leading up to Houston. The tackles were already solidified with 6th year senior Sean Sheller (left), and Red Shirt Senior Mike Harris (right), as was the Center position with the aforementioned RS Senior Kai Maiava. The guards were more of a question mark, especially when it was announced Jeff Baca was going to miss at least the first four weeks of the season. In steps JUCO transfer Albert Cid, and former Center Greg Capella. Coming into the Spring, Albert Cid was not on the Bruins, and Capella figured to be backing up Maiava.

Just ten days ago, Chris Ward figured to be one of the starting guards, but he has quickly found himself working with the second unit on a consistent basis. This isn’t to say that he will not be a starter in two weeks, but that he needs to pick up the slack. The offensive line did not fare well early in the fall, but they seem to be getting better. As it stands, they have three positions solidified, and three guards competing for two spots. Figuring out those two guard spots is just as important as figuring out who the Quarterback is. If the first team offensive line can be solidified and work together for the next two weeks, they can be formidable once the season starts.

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