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UCLA FYI

Kevin Craft would love another shot at leading the offense

The senior quarterback struggled as the starter last season, having a school-record 20 passes intercepted. With Kevin Prince injured, he's competing with Richard Brehaut to start against Kansas State.

September 17, 2009|Chris Foster

Ask UCLA quarterback Kevin Craft to discuss what he went through during the 2008 season and he'll ask a question back.

"Where do I begin?" Craft said.

So many things to pick from . . . that 4-8 record . . . those school-record 20 interceptions . . . the constant booing. As always, Craft reveals little besides an introspective-looking smirk.

But if there is anyone out there who thinks he didn't agonize his way through last season, they're wrong. What Craft would like now is a chance to change his UCLA image.

"I think I am a good player," said Craft, a senior. "I think if I get another opportunity this year, things will work themselves out."

There are those among the UCLA fan base who might cringe at the thought. Yet, they still may get to see that Saturday against Kansas State.

Craft spent the majority of Wednesday's practice with the first team. Freshman Richard Brehaut is still expected to start in place of Kevin Prince (fractured jaw), but his performance in practice Tuesday opened the door for Craft.

"It's hard for a young guy because we're throwing a lot of things at him," offensive coordinator Norm Chow said of Brehaut. "He just needs to learn what we're trying to get done."

Those were hard lessons for Craft a year ago. He came from Mt. San Antonio College and was expected to be a backup. Then quarterbacks Ben Olson and Patrick Cowan were injured.

Craft, third on the depth chart in spring, was under center opening night, leading UCLA to a 27-24 victory over Tennessee. It was mostly downhill from there.

He started all 12 games, but the season quickly unraveled. Craft became the gift that kept on giving . . . to opposing teams. Six interceptions were returned for touchdowns. He was replaced by Prince in the spring.

"It is hard any time you come into a new place," Craft said. "I was around all new guys, playing an all new offense, under my third offensive coordinator in three years. We had to make a lot of changes during the year, up front, in the backfield. It was not like we had a consistent lineup."

Or a good one. The offensive line seemed incapable of run or pass blocking. Running backs were slow to the holes.

"There were a lot of factors, but I'm not someone who points fingers," Craft said.

He shouldn't. Craft too often locked himself into the primary receiver or got happy feet. Fans let him know it. There was a moment in the spotlight when Craft led UCLA to a fourth-quarter rally against Stanford, but most of the season he was the face of Bruins failure to fans.

"That guy took a tremendous amount of criticism and it wasn't always his fault," Chow said. "It was my fault. It was the offensive line's fault. It was the scheme's fault. There were a lot of people to blame."

Mobley out

Defensive tackle Willie Mobley will not enroll at UCLA this quarter, as he said he lacked the necessary credits.

Mobley will attend Orange Coast College and then enroll at UCLA in the summer.

"I'm still a Bruin," Mobley said.

Mobley was ineligible to play this season after transferring from Ohio State in August. But he would have been able to practice with the team. He spent one season with the Buckeyes and will have three years of eligibility remaining.

Quick hits

Tailback Christian Ramirez, out four weeks because of hamstring and ankle injuries, returned fully to practice, and even had a few carries Wednesday. But Ramirez is not expected to be ready for Saturday's game. . . . Wide receiver Gavin Ketchum (hamstring) did some light workouts but is not expected to play.

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chris.foster@latimes.com

twitter.com/cfosterlatimes

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Schedule

*--* DATE OPPONENT RESULT Sept. 5 San Diego St. W 33-14 Sept. 12 at Tennessee W 19-15 Saturday Kansas State 7:15 p.m. Oct. 3 at Stanford TBA Oct. 10 Oregon TBA Oct. 17 California TBA Oct. 24 at Arizona 3 p.m. Oct. 31 at Oregon St. TBA Nov. 7 Washington TBA Nov. 14 at Wash. St. TBA Nov. 21 Arizona St. TBA Nov. 28 at USC 7 p.m. *--*

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