Houston, we’ve got a tandem: UCLA will use a Twosome for Houston, if not a Threesome, as Neuheisel names Prince the Starting QB, but insists that Brehaut, and maybe Hundley, will play too
Can a QB Committee beat the Kitties? UCLA will find out on Saturday, as they take on the Houston Cougars with a one-two (and maybe -three) punch at the Quarterback position. This week, Head Coach Rick Neuheisel announced that no one really “won” the QB competition outright, so even though Kevin Prince will start on Opening Day, Richard Brehaut will also get significant playing time, regardless of how well Prince is performing.
As has been reported throughout Practice, Prince still has a slight advantage over Brehaut, because of his superior ability to run the Offense, and his superior ability to just plain run. Although Brehaut may have shown a tad more consistency with his Passing, the overall management of the system was deemed more important to get the team started in the right direction.
No timetable for the switcheroo has been planned. Neither Prince nor Brehaut knows when Prince will be pulled. A logical guess would be that Prince would get two or three series to move the team — That should translate to one quarter. Then Brehaut will come in, giving Houston a different look with which to contend.
The problem arises if Prince comes out on fire, moving the team down the field, and leading them to scores in two or three of the drives. If the Bruin Defense performs equally as well, then Neuheisel can still pull the trigger on the QB change, since he would have a cushion. But if Houston’s Heisman-caliber QB Case Keenum plays up to his pre-injury form, then Neuheisel will have a dilemma — Should he pull a QB with a hot hand, in a close game, just to fulfill a promise? Last year, he didn’t. After saying that both QB’s would share time in the first game of the year, he stuck with Prince, in the tough loss against Kansas State.
This year, it’s much more likely that Brehaut will get in. Not only Brehaut, but third-stringer Brett Hundley as well. Apparently, the Bruins have a condensed version of the playbook that they will employ when Hundley comes in. The Freshman has not mastered the entire Offensive attack, so they selected a limited number of plays with which he IS comfortable. Although the plays will still be run from the same Pistol formation, it will be a similar strategy to teams who shift to a Wildcat formation on certain downs, using a run-first Back to take the snap and execute the play.
Of course, when the Cougars see Hundley at the helm, they will shift into a stop-the-run Defensive alignment, so for Hundley to be successful, he will have to throw some early passes, just to keep the Defense off-balance. If he is able to get a couple of completions, then he will probably get some room to run on subsequent plays. And if Hundley finds some open field, watch out. The then three-headed monster could actually be successful.
Some Bruin fans feel that Neuheisel should have just picked a Starter and and stuck with him. They feel like a tandem approach can not work. I agree that having ONE clear-cut team leader is preferable, but I don’t think it’s a mandatory prerequisite of success. The platoon design to start the season allows one of the two guys to prove that they are better under real game conditions. Sometimes, performance in practice does NOT correctly predict performance in games. Also, with the injury history of this team, and with Prince specifically, it might be a good thing to get Brehaut some meaningful reps early in the season, just in case Kevin goes down again.
Another thing some Bruin fans are up in arms about is the decision to list Taylor Embree on the Depth Chart as the #1 Punt Returner. I admit that I too was disappointed by this move, expecting a more explosive player to get the nod. Unfortunately, the options that were more dangerous to opponents were also dangerous to the Bruins, apparently having a hard time catching the punts. So it looks like Neuheisel is going with the sure-handed Embree, over the riskier alternatives, despite their more desirable up-sides.
One other notable Depth Chart note: Shaquelle Evans has unseated Embree as a Starting Receiver, leapfrogging Ricky Marvray and Randall Carroll in the process. Hopefully this speaks well of Evans’ progress, as opposed to the regress of the others. One thing with Receivers though is that all of them will still have plenty of opportunities to make a statement, and earn more playing time… but it’s up to one of the three QB’s to get them the ball.