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Kevin Prince impresses coach in debut

After watching the game tape, Rick Neuheisel is pleased with the Bruins' quarterback, who demonstrated his arm strength and had good game management.

September 07, 2009|Chris Foster

Monday morning quarterback reviews were in Sunday night, after UCLA Coach Rick Neuheisel finished watching game tape.

There was one thing clear about quarterback Kevin Prince's debut Saturday: He can throw the football.

Even his most glaring mistakes, the two interceptions, were gaffes of the mind, when he misread coverage and didn't see a defensive back lurking. Other than that, his passes were either going to be caught by UCLA receivers or not at all.

The most vivid example was the six-yard touchdown pass to Terrence Austin, who caught a perfectly thrown ball on a fade pattern. Prince finished 18 for 29 for 179 yards and one touchdown.

Offensive coordinator Norm Chow tested Prince from the start, with the Bruins offense starting with six consecutive completed passes -- one nullified because of a penalty.

"We didn't want to play pound ball and make his first throw a third-and-eight play," Neuheisel said.

"That first throw of the game was beautiful, and he took a good hit. It was a good way to get started."

Prince, a redshirt freshman, demonstrated his arm strength on a handful of deep throws, an element that was missing last season.

"We showed glimpses of being able to get bigger chunks of yardage down field," Neuheisel said.

"That was very much a sticking point last year."

Beyond the arm strength, Neuheisel was pleased with Prince's game management, though he made sure to temper that with examples of freshman-like mistakes.

The good:

"The touchdown was a perfect example," Neuheisel said. "He saw the defense, knew the opportunity, checked the play and executed it perfectly."

The bad:

"Later in the game, he checked out of a play, executed poorly and forgot how many steps he was supposed to take," Neuheisel said.

Still, even with the mistakes, Prince's reaction impressed Neuheisel.

"They were ill-advised reads," Neuheisel said of the interceptions. "I think we can fix it. On both occasions, he came over and nodded. Now he knows what he did wrong. You learn from those mistakes, and those balls you won't see again."

The proud father

UCLA offensive line coach Bob Palcic wasn't quite beaming after the game, though he did have that pleased-as-punch look.

The Bruins had 144 yards rushing, with running backs finding holes a truck could pass through, and not the Tonka variety.

It was the type of offensive performance Palcic is accustomed to getting considering the Outland Trophy winners and NFL linemen on his resume.

"Last year was probably the toughest year of my career," Palcic said. "These kids worked hard during the off-season and did enough good things to be proud."

That can be charted by numbers. Johnathan Franklin had a 12-yard scoring run for the first touchdown.

The Bruins' nine rushing touchdowns in 2008 totaled 18 yards.

Derrick Coleman went 29 yards in the second quarter.

UCLA's longest scoring play was 21 yards -- a pass play -- in 2008.

"When [Franklin] scored, he cut behind me," sophomore guard Jeff Baca said.

"When I got up, he was in the end zone. We didn't see much of that last season. It was a lot different."

However, Palcic said, "I can still point a few things out that we can do better."

Injury report

Cornerback Aaron Hester is expected to miss four to six weeks with a fractured fibula in his right leg, Neuheisel reported.


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