Sequestered somewhere on the UCLA campus Monday, squirreled away for safe keeping, was quarterback Richard Brehaut, whose moment appears at hand.
UCLA will play Kansas State on Saturday at the Rose Bowl without starting quarterback Kevin Prince, who is out three to four weeks with a broken jaw.
Brehaut, a freshman, is expected to start. He was the backup for last week's game at Tennessee.
Brehaut wasn't made available for interviews on Monday, but his teammates practiced free speech on his behalf.
"He's been looking pretty good," senior wide receiver Terrence Austin said. "I think he has everything down. I see him making good reads in practice. He looks confident back there."
The we-believe-in-you-kid pep talks are hardly the preferred offensive scheme heading into the third week of the season. But after X-rays Sunday showed Prince had a fractured jaw, UCLA's coaching staff was left scrambling to get Plan B up to speed.
Senior Kevin Craft, who started all 12 games in 2008, will get a look during this week's practice and could see some playing time, but offensive coordinator Norm Chow is an opponent of job sharing so the lion's share of snaps appeared ticketed for Brehaut. The Rancho Cucamonga Los Osos High product played in UCLA's season opener against San Diego State, going two for two for 39 yards mopping up a 33-14 victory. Craft has not taken a snap at quarterback this season.
"He's probably going to get the jitters out there," Austin said of Brehaut. "When you're in high school, you play in front of 10,000 people and that's a big crowd. In college, it could be 90,000. We have to get out there and get him in a rhythm."
UCLA has lost its starting quarterback to injuries in each of the last four seasons. But linebacker Reggie Carter said, "Regardless of who is back there, as long as they don't give up the ball we should be fine. We're not going to let teams score too many points."
Coach Rick Neuheisel tap-danced around the question whether Prince goes back into the lineup when he's healthy.
"I don't know if you ever make those kinds of statements," Neuheisel said. "You don't have all the facts. We don't know when he's going to be healthy. We don't know what's going to transpire.
"Certainly I don't like the notion of a guy losing his job because he gets hurt. But you always make the decisions that are best for the team at the time you need to make them."
They're tough, really
Kansas State comes to the Rose Bowl on Saturday fresh off a 17-15 loss to Louisiana Lafayette. That followed a season opener in which the Wildcats slipped by Massachusetts, 21-17.
Still, Neuheisel was projecting a harsh encounter, saying, "Kansas State is a huge challenge for us."
Neuheisel said the same thing about San Diego State before the Bruins' 19-point victory over the Aztecs. But he made the pitch, saying, "All you have to do is look at the game tape; both Massachusetts and Lafayette have a lot of good players."
Massachusetts, which plays in the Colonial Athletic Assn., finished with a 7-5 record in 2008. Louisiana Lafayette, which plays in the Sun Belt Conference, was 6-6 last season.
"We'd be crazy, absolutely certifiable, if we think we can waltz through anyone," Neuheisel said. "We have too many young players and too many things to address."
Wide receiver Gavin Ketchum (hamstring) and tailback Christian Ramirez (ankle) will practice this week, but Neuheisel wasn't sure either would be ready for Saturday's game. . . . Offensive lineman Nick Ekbatani (sprained knee) will begin running this week.