Pac-12: Richard Brehaut

Meet your quarterback: UCLA

August, 29, 2012
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There were six quarterback competitions in the Pac-12 this year. Some came about by the departure of some outstanding quarterbacks. Others just needed new life infused into the offense.

Today we're going to take a look at each of the quarterbacks who won their job.

We continue with UCLA, which had a four-way quarterback competition coming out of spring ball. Head coach Jim Mora had hoped to name his starter by the end of spring, but no one had separated themselves enough yet. But Brett Hundley emerged -- as most expected -- early on in camp and Mora saw no reason to delay his selection.

Brett Hundley, UCLA
  • 2011 stats: N/A
  • Career stats: N/A
  • Pros: Youth and athleticism are on Hundley’s side. He only spent one season in the old pistol offense, and according to him, he’s flushed it all from his system (though that seems to be the feeling among all of the UCLA quarterbacks). He has the arm to make all of the throws in Noel Mazzone’s offense and has been a quick study. As he grows into the offense, you’ll see him make quicker decisions on when to cut and run (and he can run) and when to let it fly. Appears to be a very good, confident leader as well.
  • Cons: That same youth and athleticism might make it tougher for him to get acclimated so quickly. He’ll have to take some lumps early while learning to stay in the pocket, rather than just tucking and going after his first two reads. In UCLA’s new offense, there are four, sometimes five passing options. How quickly he learns to make those reads will go a long way toward determining his success in Year 1. Also, recent history hasn’t looked too kindly on UCLA's starting quarterbacks.
  • How he won the job: Most people considered Hundley the frontrunner coming out of spring ball. It was his to lose at the start of fall camp and according to the coaching staff, he came in prepared and was significantly better than the other three quarterbacks in the competition. The coaches also like his dual-threat ability.
  • Coach speak: "As we got into fall camp, it became apparent to us that Brett was the guy grabbing the reins," said UCLA head coach Jim Mora. "Brett has a unique style. He's a big, physical guy. He's close to 6-4, 225-pounds. He's got a good arm and he throws with accuracy ... Brett has shown to be a good decision-maker."
  • Backup plan: For all of Hundley’s youth, there is actually some good experience behind him with Richard Brehaut and Kevin Prince. Brehaut has started 11 games and Prince has started 26. Mora said he hasn't officially settled on a backup, and if he has, he's not ready to announce it. Either way, he's not getting someone totally green to the college experience.

Video: UCLA names Hundley starting QB

August, 12, 2012
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video
Brett Hundley, Jim Mora, Noel Mazzone, Kevin Prince and Richard Brehaut talk about Hundley winning the starting quarterback job.

Hundley named UCLA's starting QB

August, 10, 2012
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UCLA coach Jim Mora didn't need to wait until Aug. 16 -- the deadline he previously gave reporters -- to name a starting QB.

Mora tapped touted redshirt freshman Brett Hundley the winner of the Bruins' four-way competition on Friday, prevailing over senior veterans Kevin Prince and Richard Brehaut and Jerry Neuheisel.

"All four quarterbacks have raised their level of play significantly since my staff and I took over, and we are excited about all of them," Mora said in a statement from the school. "That said, Brett has consistently demonstrated the qualities we value in a starting quarterback and is an outstanding leader who commands the respect of his teammates. He has shown excellent decision-making skills, and his accuracy and timing continue to improve with each practice. In addition, he has shown the mobility and creativity needed when a play breaks down."

Prince had started 26 games and Brehaut 11, but Hundley's upside was difficult to ignore and it has seemed clear since the start of preseason camp that he was the leader. Mora and offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone also know that they have two veteran backups if Hundley gets hurt or struggles. It wasn't revealed who Hundley's backup is.

More here.

This leaves the Pac-12 with four teams without starting QBs. Arizona State, Colorado, Oregon and Stanford still have unresolved competitions.
It's time to start our preseason position reviews. And there was much rejoicing.

Here's how we do this: We provide three evaluative categories: "Great shape," "Good shape" and "We'll see."

Hint: You'd prefer your team to be in "Great shape."

"We'll see" doesn't mean you're going to stink at said position. It means just what it says -- we'll see because there's no way at present to know. California and Utah were both "We'll see" at running back in 2011, and both produced 1,000-yard rushers.

You can review last year's rankings here. Plenty of hits. And plenty of misses.

And away we go.

Great shape

USC: Matt Barkley is the best returning QB in the nation and the leading Heisman Trophy candidate. The only concern might be that none of his backups have game experience.

[+] EnlargeKeith Price
Gary A. Vasquez/US PresswireHuskies quarterback Keith Price passed for 3,063 yards and 33 TDs last season.
Washington: Keith Price ranked second in the Pac-12 in passing efficiency in 2011, completing 67 percent of his throws with 33 TDs and just 11 interceptions. No experience behind him, though.

Washington State: For one, if Mike Leach is your coach, you can count on good quarterback play. But having the talent and experience of Jeff Tuel is big. Further, backup Connor Halliday shined when he played last year.

Oregon State: Perhaps this is a leap of faith for Sean Mannion, but there are three reasons for Beavers fans not to worry about quarterback: 1) Second-year starters tend to do much better under Mike Riley; 2) Mannion has a good crew of receivers; and 3) Mannion, who passed for 3,328 yards last year, has plenty of talent.

Good shape

Utah: It's tempting to switch Oregon State and the Utes here. If Utah gets 12 games from Jordan Wynn, who's suffered shoulder injuries the past two years, he's going to be a better-than-average -- perhaps even legitimately good -- quarterback. The depth features experience (Jon Hays) and potential (Travis Wilson).

California: If Zach Maynard plays like he did over the final four games of the regular season, then the Bears are in great shape at quarterback -- at least if they can find some guys to complement Keenan Allen at receiver and a center who can deliver a shotgun snap. Allan Bridgford looked good this spring, and true freshman Zach Kline has franchise potential.

Arizona: Matt Scott redshirted last year but he played well coming off the bench for Nick Foles in 2010. He seems like a perfect dual-threat quarterback for new coach Rich Rodriguez's offense. Only issue is the depth behind him is inexperienced and suspect.

Oregon: This is a case of Chip Kelly earning the benefit of the doubt. We saw Bryan Bennett play and play well last year when Darron Thomas was hurt. So if Marcus Mariota is good enough to eclipse him, then he must be pretty darn good.

UCLA: Bruins have plenty of experience with Richard Brehaut and Kevin Prince, but neither has played well consistently. They also have an intriguing talent in Brett Hundley. We don't know who will win the job, but it seems there's a strong possibility for at least adequate play here -- and perhaps more if offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone works the same magic he did at Arizona State.

We'll see

Stanford: My general feeling is Stanford will be fine here with Brett Nottingham or Josh Nunes, but Kevin is such a dark cloud of doom -- a maelstrom, really -- that the Cardinal get relegated to this category. I may be exaggerating Kevin's negativity a bit.

Arizona State: Mike Bercovici, Michael Eubank and Taylor Kelly are each promising in their own way, but the issue is they are very different quarterbacks with little to no experience.

Colorado: A wide-open battle here between Connor Wood, Nick Hirschman and Kansas transfer Jordan Webb. Or, heck, perhaps even incoming freshman Shane Dillon.

Video: Entering the offseason -- UCLA

May, 30, 2012
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Kevin Gemmell looks at UCLA coming out of spring ball. Quarterback is still up in the air, but the defensive switch should be a good one for the Bruins.
How much can we really learn from spring? Funky scrimmages with backwards scoring systems; depleted depth charts; completely new installs for four teams. Actually, more than you'd think. Here are five things we learned about the Pac-12 during spring.

  1. Quarterbacks are still in limbo: Be it Stanford, Arizona State, UCLA, Oregon or Colorado, almost half of the teams still don’t know who is going to be under center when the season starts. Stanford funneled its list of five down to two, Josh Nunes and Brett Nottingham. ASU still has a three-way battle with Michael Eubank, Mike Bercovici and Taylor Kelly -- though coach Todd Graham said they have a better idea than they are probably letting on publicly. The very private competition between Marcus Mariota and Bryan Bennett at Oregon remains in question -- though Mariota was spectacular in the spring game while Bennett faltered. Still, coach Chip Kelly said that one game isn’t going to be his basis for comparison. UCLA coach Jim Mora wanted to name a starter by the end of spring, but no one has “grabbed” it, so we’ll have to wait until August before learning whether Brett Hundley, Kevin Prince or Richard Brehaut gets the gig. And at Colorado, the competition was put on hiatus when Nick Hirschman broke a bone in his foot and couldn’t compete in spring drills. One has to think that was a huge advantage for Connor Wood to get almost all of the reps with the first-team offense.
  2. Not everyone has quarterback issues: Teams thought to have quarterback question marks heading into spring seemed to have resolved them. In Utah, Jordan Wynn is completely healthy, and both coach Kyle Whittingham and offensive coordinator Brian Johnson have declared Wynn their guy. While Mike Leach hasn’t officially declared Jeff Tuel his starter, it’s hard to imagine anyone else winning the job in the fall, short of Tuel suffering a significant injury or amnesia. He had a splendid spring, and appears to be a great fit for Leach’s offense. And at Arizona, Matt Scott seized the job early and left little room for any competition. Coach Rich Rodriguez has been gushing about how quickly Scott has adjusted to the offense. At Cal, Zach Maynard, once thought to be challenged by freshman Zach Kline, appears to not only have held on to the job, but distanced himself from pursuers.
  3. Wide receivers aplenty: And there are plenty of those in the conference. USC has probably the best tandem in the country in Robert Woods and Marqise Lee. Cal’s Keenan Allen (though he missed spring drills) should continue to put up big numbers, and Washington State’s Marquess Wilson should flourish in the Cougars’ new system with Tuel as his quarterback. Markus Wheaton and Brandin Cooks could challenge the USC duo statistically if quarterback Sean Mannion continues to develop. There are stars on the rise at Arizona State (Jamal Miles) and Stanford (Ty Montgomery), and a potential star at Washington (James Johnson). Look out Biletnikoff, the Pac-12 is a comin'…
  4. The conference of defense? The Pac-12 might never bunk its reputation as an offensive-centric conference (especially when it keeps churning out offensive talent). But there is a surplus of talented defenses and defensive players who were on display this spring. Washington seems to have plugged its leaks with new defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox. There’s a 3-4 trend sweeping the conference, and with notable playmakers like Star Lotulelei (Utah), John Boyett (Oregon), Dion Jordan (Oregon), Chase Thomas (Stanford), Josh Shirley (Washington), T.J. McDonald (USC) and DeAndre Coleman (Cal), it’s easy to see why some of the Pac-12 defenses will get the same kind of love as the offenses do in 2012.
  5. Confidence is at an all-time high: As it should be in the spring. The four new coaches all feel confident about the systems they have installed. Stanford feels as good as it ever has about its running game. USC and Oregon should get lofty preseason rankings, and this is the time of the year when fans go through the schedules game by game and always seem to come up with a minimum of six wins. Sorry to say, there are teams in the conference that won’t make it to a bowl game this season. But when you hear the coaches talk about their teams, you’d think the conference is going to go 12-0 in the postseason. This is a magical time for fans filled with hope and possibility. Enjoy it while it lasts.
There were a lot of new and few answers this spring in the Pac-12.

The new is four new coaches: Rich Rodriguez at Arizona, Todd Graham at Arizona State, Jim Mora at UCLA and Mike Leach at Washington State. The lack of answers comes mostly at quarterback, though it now seems in vogue for coaches to downplay -- or refuse to provide -- a post-spring depth chart, thereby leaving just about every position allegedly up for grabs.

Or as Oregon coach Chip Kelly cryptically explained when asked if any Ducks questions were answered this spring, "I don’t know what that phenomena is, but we don’t have answers that are answered after spring, Grasshopper."

He didn't say "Grasshopper," but it seemed to be strongly implied.

[+] EnlargeJeff Tuel
AP Photo/Dean HareA strong spring game helped Jeff Tuel in his bid to be Washington State's starting QB.
USC and Washington entered and exited spring with QB certainty, with Matt Barkley and Keith Price ranking among the nation's best. California, Utah, Arizona and Oregon State appear solid at the position. Washington State is just short of set with Jeff Tuel, as Tuel's lights-out performance in the spring game -- 19-of-21 for 285 yards and two touchdowns -- made his position seem strong with an injured Connor Halliday on the sidelines.

That leaves Arizona State, Colorado, Oregon, Stanford and UCLA. All five entered spring with QB uncertainty, and they exit it that way.

The Ducks QB situation was a national story after Darron Thomas surprisingly -- and unwisely -- opted to enter the NFL draft. Before spring began, Bryan Bennett, who played well in relief of Thomas last year, seemed like a strong frontrunner over Marcus Mariota. But Mariota overwhelmingly outplayed Bennett in the spring game, an ESPN3 broadcast that was the Ducks' only open practice, looking good as a runner and passer.

Still, Kelly only acknowledged what everyone saw and said onward to the summer.

Arizona State and UCLA started spring with three legitimate challengers at QB. While it seemed as though there was daily speculation of an emerging pecking order, both programs placed "ORs" between their troikas on their post-spring depth chart. While it would seem that Mike Bercovici and Michael Eubank are ahead of Taylor Kelly for the Sun Devils, and Brett Hundley and Richard Brehaut are ahead of returning starter Kevin Prince for the Bruins, those competitions are unresolved, according to both head coaches.

Same can be said for Stanford, though the Cardinal only have a two-man race with Brett Nottingham and Josh Nunes. Neither played terribly well in the spring game, so Andrew Luck's very, very large cleats remain unfilled.

Still, know that the coaches have a pretty good idea of the pecking order, even as they opt to be coy. Mora said he'll name his starter by Aug. 16, while Graham intimated his ultimate decision isn't far away.

"We're a lot closer than what it appears probably from the outside," he said.

Colorado's QB competition never really got started. Pre-spring frontrunner Connor Wood, a Texas transfer, was pretty much handed an opportunity to take the job with Nick Hirschman out with a foot injury, but Wood failed to break through. While Wood may well still be the frontrunner, it's also possible incoming freshman Shane Dillon could get into the mix, as could Jordan Webb, a former starter at Kansas who may end up in Boulder via transfer.

Coach Jon Embree isn't eager to prolong the indecision.

"If it's a clear cut deal, I'm not going to waste time," he said. "I think it's important that the team knows and that quarterback know that they're going to be leading the team."

What this all means is that nearly half the Conference of Quarterbacks is undecided at the position and likely will remain that way until mid-August. Or later.

Of course, feel free to consult the heavens -- or the message boards -- for hints at what might lay ahead.

UCLA spring wrap

May, 14, 2012
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2011 record: 6-8
2011 conference record: 5-4 (first in South)
Returning starters: Offense: 7; defense: 7; kicker/punter 1

Top returners
RB Johnathan Franklin, TE Joseph Fauria, DE Datone Jones, LB Patrick Larimore, LB Damien Holmes, S Tevin McDonald.

Key losses
WR Nelson Rosario, OT Mike Harris, C Kai Maiava

2011 statistical leaders (*returners)
Rushing: Johnathan Franklin* (976 yards)
Passing: Kevin Prince* (1,828 yards)
Receiving: Nelson Rosario (1,161 yards)
Tackles: Patrick Larimore* (81)
Sacks: Datone Jones* (3)
Interceptions: Andrew Abbott* (4)

Spring answers
1. Nice to meet you: Step one for a new coaching staff is to acclimate their players to not only their systems, but how they go about running their program. UCLA's players learned quickly that Jim Mora and Co. don't waste time. Players were introduced to a high-tempo practice session that took some getting used to, but ultimately they figured it out by the end of spring.

2. New look-offense: Players seemed to pick up new offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone's pass-happy scheme rather quickly -- and by the spring game, the quarterbacks were tossing multiple touchdowns. Each quarterback has said the new offense is less complex, but allows him to make quicker decisions. Because it's so pass-oriented, it caters to the talents of the quarterbacks. Which one starts, however, is still up for grabs (see below).

3. Defensive depth: The move of Holmes from defensive end to outside linebacker has opened up another spot on a fairly deep defensive line. Jones should flourish as a pass-rusher in the 3-4 scheme. Cassius Marsh, Brandon Willis and Owamagbe Odighizuwa bring depth and talent to a position group that should be the strength of UCLA's defense.

Fall questions
1. To be continued ...: Mora said he was hoping to name a quarterback by the end of spring. No dice. He wants a longer look at Brett Hundley, Kevin Prince and Richard Brehaut before deciding. Each brings his own skill set and talents. Brehaut put up impressive numbers in the spring game and Hundley is oozing potential. This is the most important decision of Mora's young career as a college coach. No need to rush it.

2. Depth needed: The Bruins can fill out most spots, but there are still depth questions on the offensive line, at linebacker and in the secondary. Xavier Su'a-Filo returns -- which helps at tackle -- and linebacker Eric Kendricks had a good spring. But there are competitions other than quarterback to keep an eye on as they spill over into the fall. Which leads us to ...

Incoming help? It's possible that some of the players coming in could make an immediate impact. Which ones, however, remains a question. Defensive end Ellis McCarthy is likely to contribute right away; Ishmael Adams could pitch in in the secondary. Offensive linemen Simon Goines and Carl Hulick could also be in the mix.
Our topic today: Which team that has a TBA at quarterback is in the best shape?

The choices: Arizona State, Colorado, Oregon, Stanford and UCLA. (We're leaving Washington State out because Jeff Tuel is a heavy front-runner, no matter how coy Mike Leach is about things).

Kevin Gemmell: Oregon -- by far -- is in the best shape of the teams yet to name a quarterback. For starters, they have the most exciting player in the conference in De'Anthony Thomas. Regardless of whether Bryan Bennett or Marcus Mariota wins the job, Thomas is going to take a 2-yard swing pass and turn it into a 50-yard touchdown. Probably a few times. He's going to make the new guy look really, really good.

[+] EnlargeChip Kelly
Steve Dykes/Getty ImagesChip Kelly might not know who Oregon's starting QB will be, but he can be sure that he'll have a talented supporting cast on offense.
And it's not like the Ducks have a history of rebuilding projects whenever Chip Kelly needs a new quarterback. How'd Darron Thomas work out? A berth in the national championship game and a Rose Bowl victory. Not bad. Same could be said for obscure JC transfer Jeremiah Masoli, who only led the Ducks to the 2010 Rose Bowl.

The offensive line should be fine protecting him with key returners like Hroniss Grasu, Carson York and Nick Cody. Plus, Oregon rotates offensive linemen so liberally the quarterback is going to have fresh bodies flanking him.

There are plenty of weapons already in place for the starter-to-be. Be it Josh Huff (status pending), tight end Colt Lyerla, who is a star on the rise, and Kenjon Barner to carry the load on the ground.

When you look at the rest of the teams sans starting quarterbacks, there are just too many questions to confidently say it's going to be a smooth transition. UCLA and ASU are starting from scratch with new coaches and new systems. Colorado is probably headed for a long season and Andrew Luck's successor has to replace -- well -- Andrew Luck. Good luck with that (pun, definitely not intended).

Oregon's transition might not be silky-smooth, but it's going to be a lot easier than the other four teams trying to replace a starter. The schedule works to the Ducks' favor with the first four games at home, which should give the new guy plenty of time to get comfortable. They might find themselves in a shootout at Washington State in the fifth game, but they don't even need to leave the Pacific Northwest until mid-October.

This offense is plug-and-play and whoever gets the job is going to be just fine.

Ted Miller: Sometimes you're screwed on a Take 2 when you go second. Kevin states a strong case. Does anyone really believe the Ducks' quarterback will be a liability this year? The answer is no.

Of course, that level of certainty could be burden, as could taking over the starting job for a top-five team. No team in the nation with uncertainty at QB this spring will be ranked higher in the preseason. Know what a disappointing regular season now looks like in Eugene? 10-2. In other words, this Ducks QB job brings a lot of pressure and high expectations. Being "pretty good for a first-year starter" will rate a fail with many fans.

None of that will be the case at UCLA. Bruins fans are starved for quarterback play that is just north of mediocre. The good news is that they will get at least that this fall. And they may be pleasantly surprised.

Start with this: Offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone. He transformed Brock Osweiler from a basketball player playing football to a second-round NFL draft pick. Mazzone is a charismatic guy -- though a follically challenged one -- who knows how to teach. He's been called a QB guru. Guys like Tim Tebow, Philip Rivers and Christian Ponder seek him out.

[+] EnlargeNoel Mazzone
Chris Williams/Icon SMISophomore QB Ricky Town received an offer from UCLA and offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone.
Then there are the three guys competing. You have the quarterback of the future in redshirt freshman Brett Hundley, and you have two seniors who have seen just about everything in Kevin Prince and Richard Brehaut. Hundley has tons of potential. He's an athletic guy who's pass-first. Sort of like Osweiler, only 4 inches shorter.

Prince and Brehaut have been maligned by Bruins fans, and not entirely without justification. Both have produced strong games. And both have played poorly. Inconsistency is not a good thing for a quarterback. But both have nothing to lose in their final year of college football. If both are healthy, they can be solid QBs. They certainly are better suited for Mazzone's spread than the pistol they've been running the past two years.

The talent around them isn't bad. There's a good stable of running backs with Johnathan Franklin, Malcolm Jones and the rising Steven Manfro. TE/WR Joseph Fauria is going to be a high NFL draft pick next spring. The offensive line has a chance to be, well, OK.

Mazzone has options here, too. He can hand the job to Hundley, knowing he's got two experienced guys who can play if he needs them. Or he can start one of his veterans and bring Hundley in for special packages, perhaps steadily increasing his reps as the season goes on. (Mazzone, like most coaches, has always said he prefers just one guy, so know that second scenario is mostly me throwing a speculative thought into the air).

Further, whoever wins the job won't be operating under the microscope like the Oregon starter will. Expectations for the Bruins aren't high. If the QB is just solid -- say, ranking sixth or seventh in the conference in passing efficiency -- then he will be widely viewed as succeeding. And if he can get seven or eight wins, Bruins fans will extend new coach Jim Mora's honeymoon a season.
UCLA has released a post-spring depth chart, but at least one person rated it as fairly worthless.

That would be new Bruins coach Jim Mora.

"I wouldn't put a lot into this depth chart," Mora said. "This depth chart to me is a piece of paper that as soon as we're done talking, I'm going to crumble up and throw in the trash. We wanted to give you something to work with."

That depth chart didn't include many revelations. The quarterbacks were listed in numerical order. Not including quarterback, there were "ORs" listed between six different positions.

You can see the depth chart -- and some notes from Jon Gold -- here.

Some notes:
  • Quarterback still remains a three-man race between Brett Hundley, Richard Brehaut and Kevin Prince -- and, yes, I listed them in what I suspect to be their current order. Mora has said that he will announce a starter on Aug. 16. Why not after spring practices? "We didn't have a guy where it was clear-cut," Mora said.
  • By the way, Mora went out of his way to praise quarterback Jerry Neuheisel, former coach Rick Neuheisel's son.
  • Brehaut may have helped his cause by giving up baseball. Mora said he had nothing to do with that decision but, "I think it's significant. He's shown a commitment. He needs to show that commitment."
  • The "ORs" on the depth chart: Jerry Johnson and Devin Lucien at receiver, Greg Capella and freshman Jake Brendel at center, Joseph Fauria and Darius Bell at receiver, Datone Jones and Owamagbe Odighizuwa at defensive end, Cassius Marsh and Odighizuwa at the other defensive end spot, and Jordan Zumwalt and Keenan Graham at outside linebacker.
  • Wade Yandall is listed No. 1 at right offensive guard, but he's got concussion issues. Mora said his status is "very uncertain."
  • Freshmen Torian White and Will Oliver are Nos. 1 and 2 at right tackle, ahead of senior Brett Downey.
  • Sophomore Brandon Willis, a transfer from North Carolina, is No. 1 at nose guard.
  • Junior Anthony Barr, a once-touted recruit who's mostly played offense, was No. 3 at one outside linebacker.
  • Mora on cornerbacks Aaron Hester and Sheldon Price: "I feel comfortable with both of those guys."
  • Mora said there will be some roster attrition this summer: "We've got some decision we've got to make and some guys who have got to make some decisions. This isn't for everybody . . . I still think there are a couple of guys who are half-in and half-out."
  • Asked about freshmen he thinks will play, Mora listed: defensive tackle Ellis McCarthy, defensive back Ishmael Adams, wide receiver Jordan Payton, safety Taylor Lagace, offensive lineman Simon Goines and offensive lineman Carl Hulick.

UCLA spring game wrap

May, 7, 2012
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UCLA head coach Jim Mora learned this spring that he hasn't learned enough -- which is why he's postponed his announcement on the Bruins starting quarterback to Aug. 16.

"I said before the spring we'd like for someone to reach out and grab it. But if they didn't, we weren't going to force it," Mora said after the spring game at the Rose Bowl Saturday. "And we're not going to force it, until the 16th. Then we're going to force it.

"I think what we gain by waiting is I want to keep a competitive environment and quite frankly I don’t think that anyone has really reached out and grabbed it enough for me to make that decision yet."

Knowing that Saturday's scrimmage would not be a deal-breaker for any of the quarterbacks, they went out, played loose and put up some pretty decent numbers against an injury-depleted, soft-serve defense.

Richard Brehaut completed 12 of 16 passes for 249 yards and four touchdowns. Brett Hundley was 12-of-20 for 185 yards, a score and an interception (he also ran for an 18-yard touchdown) and Kevin Prince was 8-of-11 for 101 yards and two scores.

"It was fun to see our quarterbacks have success early," Mora said. "I think we have to really temper that with the knowledge that defensively we were really just playing two defenses ... we weren't really pressuring. But I still was impressed with their performance. I thought we caught the ball well, ran the ball well."

Brehaut has also decided to focus all of his attention on the football team and won't be rejoining UCLA's baseball team.

"For me, football has always been the priority," he told Peter Yoon of ESPNLosAngeles. "I wanted to give baseball the opportunity because I knew I can play baseball, but right now I think my time is going to be best spent with the football team and developing that leadership role."

Receivers Jerry Johnson (five catches, 125 yards) and Tyler Scott (three catches, 113 yards) both caught a pair of touchdowns. Running back Steven Manfro continued a strong spring with seven catches for 105 yards, a pair of carries for 20 yards and he also returned a kickoff for a touchdown.

"He's really shown up in every practice we've had," Mora said of Manfro. "He's had a play or two in ever practice we've had and he did the same tonight ... he's electric out there. He's fun."

Defensively, there were also some highlights. Cornerback Sheldon Price turned in a pick-six -- headlining four interceptions for the Bruins secondary (two from Price) -- and Datone Jones tallied a pair of sacks.

Offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone said he's not too concerned about not having a starting quarterback coming out of spring.

"I don’t think it’s stressful at all because I think I’ve got some good players at that spot," Mazzone said. "Now it’s stressful when you leave spring and you don’t think you have anybody. That is stressful."

Pac-12 scrimmage roundup

April, 30, 2012
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Catching you up on all of the scrimmage and spring game info from over the weekend.

OREGON

One of the most secretive quarterback competitions in the country made a very public splash as Marcus Mariota outshined Bryan Bennett in Oregon's spring game.

Mariota ran for an 82-yard touchdown, threw for another and led his team to four touchdowns on five drives. He completed 18 of 26 passes with a score and an interception while rushing for 99 yards on five carries.

Bennett, conversely, was 19-of-32 for 209 yards, throwing two interceptions (including a pick-six) and he also fumbled.

“That’s why you have days like this,” UO coach Chip Kelly said. “It’s interesting to see how guys react.”

A very important note from Rob Moseley of The Register-Guard:
Afterward, Kelly and offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich reiterated that Bennett and Mariota will be judged on their entire bodies of work from this spring, and that the Ducks won’t feel any pressure to name a starter until the week of their 2012 opener, Sept. 1 against Arkansas State. Public opinion, at least, no doubt swayed toward Mariota on Saturday.

In other words, while Saturday provided a nice peek behind the curtain, official word probably isn't coming any time soon.

OREGON STATE

Sean Mannion completed 8 of 15 passes for 81 yards with no touchdowns and an interception. Backup quarterback Cody Vaz, who coach Mike Riley has singled out numerous times for having a good spring, was 11-of-21 for 151 yards with a touchdown and an interception.

“I thought they both made some good throws and plays in general,” Riley said. “I feel like we have two starting quarterbacks right now.”

Malcolm Agnew had the lone rushing touchdown while Jordan Jenkins led the way with nine carries for 45 yards. Storm Woods carried eight times for 37 yards. Kicker Trevor Romaine connected on field goals of 41, 33 and 45 yards.

Ryan Murphy, Micah Audiss and Peter Ashton all recorded interceptions for the defense and Audiss blocked a 50-yard field goal attempt.

“We have a long way to go before we win a game, but there were guys making plays today,” Riley said. “We had a great spring practice session and I’m excited to get going again this fall.”

UCLA

The Bruins might be a step closer to naming a starting quarterback, writes Chris Foster of the LA Times.

Redshirt freshman Brett Hundley had a strong showing on Saturday, working almost exclusively with the first-team offense, where he completed 7 of 11 passes that included a 28-yard touchdown to Shaquelle Evans and he also added a 5-yard scramble for a touchdown.

"Getting 24 plays was fun," Hundley told Foster. "But I don't worry about whether I'm getting looked at longer. I just trying to master my craft."

It appears Hundley is finally starting to distance himself from seniors Kevin Prince and Richard Brehaut, the other two top contenders for the starting job. But despite the surge over the past few practices from Hundley, head coach Jim Mora wasn't ready to name anyone the starter yet.

"We will announce it at the appropriate time, when it becomes apparent, when we have a chance to sit down as a staff and talk about which way want to go," Mora said.

WASHINGTON

Washington's defense was the stronger unit in Saturday's Spring Game.

In a format with the defense being awarded points for stops, turnovers, etc., the defense topped the offense 36-10. With close to 12,000 fans on hand at CenturyLink Field, head coach Steve Sarkisian saw a defensive unit that was much maligned last season show encouraging improvement.

"I thought our guys defensively really played well and that's on a lot of fronts," head coach Steve Sarkisian said after the game. "One, I thought we lined up really well. We didn't have a bunch of busts where we lined up wrong. They were aggressive. They played enthusiastic and I thought one of the big telling things defensively is that they won a lot of the one-on-one battles, especially down the field with the ball in the air. They closed on the ball and they were confident closing on the ball in the back end and they made plays. That was extremely encouraging.''

Quarterback Keith Price completed 14 of 28 passes for 168 yards and a touchdown. Running back Bishop Sankey did the bulk of the work on the ground, rushing for 34 yards on 11 carries. James Johnson led the receiving corps with six catches for 42 yards.

But the story was defense. Andrew Hudson helped lead the charge for the Huskies with six tackles, a pair of sacks and 2.5 tackles for a loss.


LOS ANGELES -- To illustrate UCLA's quarterback dilemma, head coach Jim Mora told the parable of Andre Carter. It was spring workouts of 2001, right after Mora -- then the defensive coordinator with the San Francisco 49ers -- and Bill Walsh drafted the defensive end out of Cal with the No. 7 overall pick.

Mora had Carter running with the second-team defense -- his thought was to make the rookie earn his place. Walsh had another idea. Mora recalls the conversation going a bit like this:
Walsh: Jim, why isn't he with the first team?
Mora: I want to make him earn it.
Walsh: We drafted him in the first round, he's earned it. Is he better than the other guys?
Mora: Yeah.
Walsh: Then put him in there. He needs to get used to playing with the guys he's going to play with. More importantly, the guy who he replaces, he needs to start understanding what his new role is.

Mora tells the story to illustrate a very blunt point. If he chooses redshirt freshman Brett Hundley as his quarterback, he wants -- check that, needs -- Kevin Prince and Richard Brehaut to start understanding what their place is on the 2012 Bruins team. If he picks either Prince or Brehaut, he needs Hundley to understand that it's because he still has work to do in the offense.

"You don't want to force the issue," Mora said. "But the longer you wait, the harder it gets. Your team needs to know who that guy is. And that guy needs to know who he is."

Prince can only offer up a begrudged laugh at the situation he now finds himself in. After all, he was a redshirt freshman when he took the starting job from senior Kevin Craft. And the irony is not lost on him.

"There was no animosity whatsoever," Prince said. "He was the most supportive person ever. His whole goal was to make sure I had fun. He knew as a young quarterback, he'd been through it, he knew how stressful it could be. He just wanted to make sure I had fun and could relax. If that situation does arise, I'll take that role and I'll be Kevin Craft."

Not that he wants that. Neither does Brehaut, or Hundley or Jerry Neuheisel, who continues to hang on in the competition.

[+] EnlargeJim Mora
Cal Sport Media via AP Images"The longer you wait" to choose a quarterback, UCLA coach Jim Mora said, "the harder it gets."
"The funnel is narrowing, but it's not narrow enough yet that all four still can't fit through the spigot," Mora said.

The three frontrunners all agree the new spread offense suits them better than the pistol offense of the old regime. And why not? It accentuates the quarterback and historically produces big numbers. And that's another backdrop to this whole story. Experience counts, but not as much as it used to given the new system.

"It's something that I'm used to," Brehaut said. "Every single year I've been here I've been in a competition. It's something I'm accustomed to. I can only control the reps that I get. I can't worry about the other three guys and what they're doing with their reps. I have to take full advantage of mine."

Mora concedes that it would just be easier to hand the job to Hundley and let him grow into the gig. But that would be "cheating" the rest of the players who are in their last year. He's taking a more tactical, Walshian approach.

"Walsh never looked at a player and saw what he could do right now," Mora said. "He considered what a guy would look like in three games, seven games, a year, two years.

"That's how we have to look at it, at trajectory. If player A has the same trajectory all year long, but player B can meet that trajectory after three games, than exceed it, you have to go with that player."

The question is whether Hundley can exceed the trajectory of Prince and Brehaut, who are both in their final seasons. And with four guys fighting for reps, that's not always easy to determine.

"That's definitely the hardest thing," said offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone. "If it were two guys, things would be going much faster. At the end of the day, life is performance-based, so we're going to play the guy who can run the offense the best. I actually think this competition has accelerated their learning curve."

Hundley understands that if he gets the job, it's going to be a little awkward. At 18, he's the youngest of the quarterbacks. But he says that the older players have done what they can to help him along.

"We're all friends," Hundley said. "But we all know we are here for a reason, and that's to be the quarterback of the UCLA Bruins. Business is business and we all want that starting job."

Video: UCLA's Richard Brehaut

April, 25, 2012
4/25/12
9:00
AM ET

Kevin Gemmell talks with the quarterback about the Bruins' competition for the starting job.

Spring scrimmage roundup

April, 23, 2012
4/23/12
11:00
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Catching you up on the spring games and scrimmages from over the weekend.

Arizona State

All three of Arizona State's quarterbacks did some good things during Saturday's spring games. ASU didn't keep official stats, but Doug Haller of the Arizona Republic kept his own unofficial stats here.

Michael Eubank completed 8 of 15 passes for three touchdowns, Mike Bercovici went 12-of-21 for a pair of scores and Taylor Kelly was 10-of-12 with a touchdown and an interception. Eubank also rushed for a touchdown to go with 52 yards on the ground.

But the highlight might have been the performance of running back James Morrison, who carried 13 times for 83 yards and a score.

"I thought 'Tank' Morrison had an incredible spring," Graham said following Saturday's game. "... I think Tank is a guy that's going to contribute, no doubt about it."

Haller reports it was a pretty vanilla showing from the defense -- adding that linebacker Jason Franklin and cornerback Joe Eason logged interceptions.

"Once they started grasping and understanding the vision and our philosophy, the football part of it started to come along faster," defensive coordinator Paul Randolph said of implementing the system. "We threw the whole kitchen sink at them. We got everything in."

California

Zach Maynard completed 6 of 10 passes and tossed a 29-yard touchdown to Maurice Harris to open the scoring of the Cal Football Spring Experience. He also added a 1-yard touchdown run that put his team ahead 14-3. But his "Blue" team would ultimately fall to the "Gold" squad as a pair of long James Langford field goals, a C.J. Anderson touchdown run and a 40-yard touchdown pass from Zach Kline put the Gold team in front for good.

With the Blue team trailing 21-14, Austin Hinder connected with Stephen Anderson on a 75-yard touchdown as time expired. But the 2-point conversion failed and the Gold team held on 21-20.

“It was a good game, a hard-fought game and a good practice overall,” Maynard said. “Unfortunately, we got beat by one point.”

Kline, who threw a 40-yard touchdown to tight end Spencer Hagan in the fourth quarter and also completed the 2-point conversion, is off limits to the media. But Maynard said after the game that he thought Kline played well.

"Zach did very well today," Maynard said. "He's progressed since he's been here. He's one of those high-caliber type of guys so he's going to perform quickly and early."

Anderson looked particularly strong, rushing for 85 yards on 14 carries, which included a 15-yard touchdown run.

John Crumpacker of the San Francisco Chronicle noted strong defensive performancesfrom Mustafa Jalil and Cecil Whiteside. Puka Lopa, Whiteside and Nick Forbes shared game-high honors with seven tackles apiece.

UCLA

Following Saturday's scaled-down scrimmage, head coach Jim Mora said he was "encouraged, but not satisfied."

And it doesn't look like there is much clarity in the way of the quarterback competition, either. Richard Brehaut, Kevin Prince and Brett Hundley all threw interceptions. Though Prince and Brehaut both threw touchdowns to Steven Manfro.

Due to injuries and a lack of depth at several key positions, Mora made Saturday more about situational scrimmaging rather than a full experience.

"We are moving closer to the kids understanding my expectations," offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone told Chris Foster of the L.A. Times. " … It's hard for me to get mad at them for trying to run stuff they have never run before. We're getting to the point where these guys should have a handle on it. It's like a Rubik's Cube; you have to keep turning it until the colors line up."

Utah

Jordan Wynn completed 8 of 11 passes for 124 yards and a score, but two of the incompletions were interceptions in the annual spring game in front of more than 13,500 at Rice-Eccles Stadium.

Wynn's touchdown was a 48-yarder to Dres Anderson. It looked like he had touchdown No. 2, but a holding call negated the 21-yard pass to Westlee Tonga and Wynn was picked off in the end zone on the next play by Tyler Cahoon.

Naturally, head coach Kyle Whittingham isn't thrilled with turnovers in the end zone.

"You can't turn the ball over," he told Mike Sorenson of the Deseret News. "That's job one for the offense. You have to take care of the ball and we didn't get that done. That was one of the negatives, but the flip side is, the defense was making plays and they came up with two interceptions."

Running back Jarrell Oliver ran for a pair of scores and 24 yards on five carries.

Defensively, Dave Fagergren also had an interception and Joape Pela, running-back-turned-defensive end Thretton Palamo and Cameron Taylor all logged sacks.

"A lot of progress was made in many areas," said Whittingham. "Always, the most critical thing for us is to get fundamentals and technique sound during spring football. There is some scheme we will also put in with the change of coordinators. But overall, this was a very positive spring. We stayed very healthy, which is always something in question. It is still a work in progress, but with each successive recruiting class we have been able to add to the depth."

Washington State

Jeff Tuel was a crisp 19-of-21 for 285 yards two touchdowns as the first team offense had its strongest showing of the spring.

"Guys kind of let it go and we just played," Tuel said. "There wasn't a lot of hesitation from the first-team offense which was good to see. ... It's easy to come into a scrimmage and not be 100 percent focused. Today we really treated it like a game so guys came real focused and were real sharp with their routes and my reads and the receivers and myself were really on the same page and I felt good about it."

Marquess Wilson and Dominique Williams both had monster receiving days. Wilson caught four balls for 149 yards and a score and Williams had five catches for 122 yards to go with his touchdown.

Logan Mayes continued to be a terror on the defensive side, notching 4.5 touch sacks.

"I was pretty happy with our play, especially the D-line," Mayes said. "I feel like we've been getting after it all spring and we really proved it here. ... People are thinking of us as an offensive team right now, but we have some good defensive players out there. It's going to be an exciting year I think."

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