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UCLA FYI

Craft still starter; other options are limited

September 22, 2008|Chris Foster | Times Staff Writer

Kevin Craft will remain UCLA's quarterback . . . for now.

Craft, coming off a woeful game in which he threw for only 81 yards Saturday in a 31-10 loss to Arizona, remains the best option, Coach Rick Neuheisel said. But the depth chart probably isn't set in stone.

"The competition is always open, and we'll continue to work other guys," Neuheisel said. "If we think there is another way to go that would give us a better chance to win, we'll do that. Until that time, we'll keep putting our faith in Kevin. He's a great kid and never makes excuses. We hope he will turn the corner."

Realistically, there doesn't appear to be a better direction to go at this time. Ben Olson is out at least another three weeks, if not longer, because of a broken bone in his foot. Freshman Kevin Prince is currently the No. 2 quarterback, but Neuheisel and offensive coordinator Norm Chow may not be ready to give him on-the-job training.

So while Neuheisel said "the competition remains open at the position," he added, "unless Norm and I have a conversation, he's still our guy."

Craft's season has been highlighted by one quarter of play. He drove the Bruins to two fourth-quarter touchdowns in a 27-24 overtime victory against Tennessee in the opener. Those are the only touchdowns the offense has produced in three games.

Craft has thrown one touchdown pass and five of his passes have been intercepted, four in the first half against Tennessee. In Saturday's game, he threw an illegal forward pass when he appeared to have room to scramble for a first down on a third-and-three play at midfield.

"I thought that would have been creative, but it happened a little too late," Neuheisel said. "I think Kevin has everything he needs inside, but I believe he gets going too fast. He makes decisions before he needs to make a decision; therefore, he gets off the timing that the game requires."

While Craft took the brunt of the blame Saturday, there was plenty to go around. UCLA receivers dropped passes on key plays. The offensive line allowed three sacks, two on third-down plays.

Neuheisel said "there were some improvements" in the offense, which had no turnovers and rushed for 115 yards, triple the net yardage from the first two games. But, the coach added, "There were plays to be made and we didn't do it."

Injury report

Tight end Cory Harkey will have an MRI test on his left ankle today. He was injured early in the game but kept playing.

Tackle Micah Kia will have his back examined; he left the game after the first half.

Neuheisel said he expects tailback Kahlil Bell (sprained ankle) and wide receiver Nelson Rosario (strained knee) to return for Saturday's game against Fresno State.

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chris.foster@latimes.com

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