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Riding the roller coaster

Bruins' quarterbacks have had an up-and-down season.

November 19, 2009

Quarterback coaster

UCLA quarterbacks, and their coaches, have experienced ups and downs this season. A summary:

* UCLA started 3-0 -- including a 19-15 victory over Tennessee, after which starter Kevin Prince, who had suffered a broken jaw, sat in the training room listening to Coach Rick Neuheisel dissect his performance.

* Kevin Craft directed UCLA's Game 3 win over Kansas State but couldn't come up with the needed plays the next week against Stanford, a loss to the Cardinal starting a five-game slide by the Bruins.

* Prince returned to the lineup when UCLA, then 3-2, hosted Oregon on Oct. 10. He passed for only 81 yards, though, had a pass intercepted and returned for a touchdown, and was replaced by Richard Brehaut in the fourth quarter of a 24-10 loss.

* The next week, at home against California, Prince directed five scoring drives and passed for 311 yards, but again had an intercepted pass returned for a touchdown in a 45-26 loss.

* Next up was Arizona -- and a total meltdown. Despite five turnovers by the Wildcats, UCLA's offense didn't score a touchdown, with Prince passing for 60 yards before he was replaced by Craft, who later was replaced by Brehaut.

* The next week, Neuheisel promised Brehaut, a first-year freshman, some meaningful playing time against Oregon State while offensive coordinator Norm Chow said he still believed in Prince, a redshirt freshman. Was a controversy brewing involving UCLA's young quarterbacks?

Not for long.

Prince shook off the rust against the Beavers, rallying the Bruins to tie by passing for 198 yards in the fourth quarter -- only to have Oregon State win, 26-19, with a touchdown in the final minute.

Brehaut's meaningful time: One series, which ended when he was sacked and fumbled.

* Prince also played well the next week against Washington, completing 13 of 17 passes for 212 yards before being knocked out of the game before halftime with a concussion. Craft, a senior who had not taken a snap in practice for two weeks, guided UCLA to a 24-23 victory.

Brehaut again played one series against Washington, and again was sacked and fumbled -- then was taken to task. Neuheisel, saying he believed in him, questioned Brehaut's preparation, adding, "It's harder than he thinks it is right now."

* Prince was back in the starting lineup against Washington State last Saturday and passed for 314 yards and ran for a team-high 76 yards, including a 68-yard touchdown run. Yet there he was on the sidelines in the second quarter, getting a scolding from Neuheisel even though he had already passed for one touchdown and ran for another in building a 23-0 lead.

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