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Quarterbacks face rush to judgment

August 12, 2008|Chris Foster | Times Staff Writer

The reality series "So You Want to Be a College Quarterback" had another episode Monday, but the early reviews were not good.

Basically, it's never good when the coach says, "I'm concerned" a week into training camp. But after a rough day for the offense, UCLA Coach Rick Neuheisel took a breath and said just that, followed by "Our offense has to understand that we have to have tempo on a daily basis. We can't just come out here. We have some real good leaders, we need some more of them. Hopefully, we'll develop them as we get closer to game time."

Leadership would seem to go hand in hand with playing quarterback, but Kevin Craft and Chris Forcier are riding a learning curve on that, Neuheisel indicated. They are trying to fill the void created when starter Ben Olson broke a bone in his right foot and will be sidelined for eight weeks.

Craft and Forcier didn't seem to distinguish themselves with Neuheisel, as the Bruins defense dominated play during 11-on-11 drills Monday.

"Guys have to command a presence to play that position," Neuheisel said. "You can't be effective without it."

Neuheisel singled out tailback Kahlil Bell and tight end Logan Paulsen as offensive leaders, but said, "We need more of them and we're going to be demanding more of others."

Playing quarterback, Neuheisel said, requires "an innate sense of command, a feel and presence, all those things. It's like the Supreme Court said about obscenity, 'I'm not sure how to define it. I just know what it is when I see it.' It's the same with quarterbacks."


Medical charts

Olson will have surgery on his right foot today. Besides having a screw inserted, he will have a bone graft, taken from his hip, to help with the healing process.

He is expected to be sidelined eight weeks.

Offensive tackle Mike Harris, injured Sunday, sat out practice because of a high-ankle sprain and is expected to be out "a few weeks," a UCLA official said.

Linebacker Reggie Carter sat out most of practice after a collision with Bell during the 11-on-11 drills.

Neuheisel said that Carter felt dizzy and that he was held out as a precaution.




L.A.'s quarterback candidates


6-5, 205, junior

* Where he's from: The scenic tour of Southern California -- from San Diego's Valley Center High to San Diego State and then Mt. San Antonio College -- has landed in Westwood, where Craft was recruited out of high school. He chose to go play for his father, Tom, at San Diego State. Father and son hooked up again at Mt. SAC last season, after Tom was let go by San Diego State. UCLA took Kevin as an insurance policy, and that policy has come due.

* What he does well: Gets rid of the ball quickly, which could come in handy behind UCLA's inexperienced offensive line. He has experience on the collegiate level, playing nine games and starting five at San Diego State as a redshirt freshman in 2006.

* What he needs to work on: He needs to reduce the RPMs in his thought process, which will reduce the heart rates of his coaches. "A little baby goes to talk or wants to eat, they rush, because their brain is going before they can think things through," offensive coordinator Norm Chow said. "I think Kevin is like that."

* Career highlights: Led San Diego State to two of its three victories in 2006. Last season, threw two touchdown passes in the last 30 seconds to lead Mt. SAC to a come-from-behind victory over Bakersfield.

* What he says: "I have to come out here and be consistent with the checks and consistent with the throws. Every day until Sept. 1 . . . I have to keep progressing and try not to take steps back."

* What they say about him: "Kevin learns something after every snap," Coach Rick Neuheisel said. "Now, can he remember it to the next snap so it doesn't happen again? He's getting better at that, but he's not done yet."

-- Chris Foster



6-3, 195, redshirt freshman

* Where he's from: Drifted through his high school career, from Santa Ana Mater Dei to Carlsbad to San Diego St. Augustine, where he won back-to-back CIF section titles. Passed for 2,347 yards and 23 touchdowns and ran for 631 yards and 10 touchdowns as a senior in 2006. Had scholarship offers from 40 schools, including Miami and Florida.

* What he does well: Forcier is so fast getting out of the pocket he almost needs an Indy-car soundtrack. That ability to scramble -- fast, he ran the 100 and 200 meters in high school -- could serve him well this year. He has already shown the ability to create good things out of bad pass protection when flushed from the pocket, something that may happen often to Bruins quarterbacks this season.

* What he needs to work on: Sticking to the plan and staying in the pocket. "He has a tendency to want to get out of there," offensive coordinator Norm Chow said. "He's been getting by on athleticism so long."

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