Wednesday, October 12, 2011
QB job is different for Prince this time
By Peter Yoon
Kevin Prince is back in the lead role at quarterback, and this time, he said, it feels a little different.
For most of training camp and through the first three weeks of the season, Prince and Richard Brehaut had been neck-and-neck for the starting job, but Prince lost the battle after throwing three interceptions against Texas.
When Brehaut broke his leg last week against Washington State, Prince was thrust back in the role under much different circumstances: There is nobody breathing down his neck to take the job.
"It’s different for sure," Prince said. "For a while there we had that whole competition thing going for quite some time. So you always kind of felt like you had to be perfect and couldn’t make mistakes and if you did [they might] throw in Richard. It’s helpful to be able to just kind of relax, and if you make a mistake, to move onto the next play."
There is an downfall to the whole situation, however. Freshman Brett Hundley is now the backup and Hundley has never taken a snap at the college level. He's gifted athletically, but isn't quite seasoned enough to fully take the reins of the offense in a game situation.
So Prince, who has an extensive injury history, has to be more cognizant about trying to avoid injury.
"We’d be in a pretty bad spot," Prince said. "Not that Brett can’t do it, he just doesn’t have the experience and we want to have guys out there that are experienced and especially being 3-3 in the conference race, we want to have experienced guys out there. Obviously, we have confidence that Brett can do certain things well, but I definitely need to make sure that I’m protecting myself and stay in the game as much as I can."
The quarterback runs the ball quite a bit in UCLA's offensive scheme and both coach Rick Neuheisel and offensive coordinator Mike Johnson have hinted they might curtail some of that, but they aren't going to scrap the Pistol all together.
"We need his legs in the offense," Neuheisel said. "It helps make everything else go because he’s viable threat. Now, how much we do it remains a question because the more we do it the more he’s at risk so it’s a great question and one we’re going to have to work on to decide what is the right balance."
Prince said that even though he is aware of the need to remain healthy, he wouldn't necessarily hesitate to run if the situation calls for it.
"I’m thinking about protecting myself for sure, but I’m not afraid of taking hits or anything like that," he said. "I took a hit [Saturday night] and it didn’t faze me or anything. Later on you saw me try to go out of bounds on a couple of runs, so I’m just trying to be smarter in that aspect, but it’s not in my head that I might get injured."