Rick Neuheisel to use both UCLA QBs
The competition for the starting quarterback job at UCLA remains unsettled.
Kevin Prince and Richard Brehaut will both play in the Bruins season opener Saturday at Houston, coach Rick Neuheisel announced in a conference call with reporters Tuesday night, providing an anti-climatic ending to a camp-long quarterback competition between the two.
Prince, the opening game starter in each of the last two seasons, will get the first series, Neuheisel said, but who plays after that will be a judgment call by Neuheisel.
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"After analyzing and looking at all the different strengths and weaknesses of the two youngsters, I just believe both deserve to play," Neuheisel said. "I've told both of them that I don't know exactly when or how or why or any of that stuff because when you make promises of that sort you end up setting yourself up for disappointment because no one can ever predict the ebb and flow of a game."
Neuheisel emphasized that he has not promised either quarterback a certain amount of time or a specified number of series, promising only that both would get in the game at some point.
"I'm just saying both will play," Neuheisel said. "I don't have any idea how many reps they'll get. I know when I decide one goes in he's going to have my full confidence and when I decide the other is going in, he'll have my full confidence."
Neuheisel opened the starting quarterback competition in an effort to improve the play of the quarterback position. Last season, UCLA finished 116th out of 120 BCS teams in passing offense and Bruins quarterbacks have had more interceptions than touchdowns every year since 2007.
Both players rose to the occasion of the competition in camp, each standing out in one aspect or another as they split time and reps and both shoring up some of their weaknesses. Thus, the result, at least for now, has been declared a tie.
"It is a little anti-climatic," Prince said. "You want to be named the starter and 'the guy,' but that's not the way it happened and we're just going to play the way it is."
Both quarterbacks said they saw the writing on the wall as camp progressed. Prince established himself as a better runner with a strong command of the offensive schemes, but Brehaut proved a superior passer and the throwing game has looked smoother when he directs the offense.
But that means little in terms of determining who will play when.
"Both of us have the ability to run the ball and have success and throw the ball and have success," Brehaut said. "I don't see limiting the playbook at all when either of us is in the game."
The Houston game will serve as a continuation of the competition, Neuheisel said. He would like to see one quarterback take the reins and prove himself the winner of the job, but with a weak San Jose State coming in Week 2, there is no hurry to have that happen immediately.
That's just fine with the quarterbacks, both of whom got starting experience last season and won two games as the Bruins went 4-8.
Prince has led the Bruins to road victories at Tennessee and Texas during his two seasons, but his progress has been slowed by injuries. He broke his jaw during a game in his freshman season, and he had season-ending arthroscopic surgery on his right knee last October.
Brehaut is a two-sport athlete who played baseball at UCLA last spring. He started seven games last season, setting a school record with 33 completions against Arizona State while passing for 1,296 yards.
Although Prince missed spring practices while recovering from knee surgery, both quarterbacks have spent the past month studying under new offensive coordinator Mike Johnson and running game coordinator Jim Mastro. UCLA's new offense will incorporate aspects of Mastro's pistol offense and Johnson's preferred spread scheme, with Neuheisel getting the final say.
"It just so happens that we have two quarterbacks here at UCLA that both have experience and both have played big games and both have the ability to lead the team down the field," Brehaut said. "I think that both of us are fully capable of playing at a high level and having success. If Kevin throws two touchdowns and is on fire ... I think I can do the same thing."
Neuheisel said talented freshman quarterback Brett Hundley could also see early action. Hundley missed part of camp after minor knee surgery, but Neuheisel's top recruit has been impressive since returning to workouts.
Disrupting the rhythm of the offense would be the primary concern of having two quarterbacks playing in one game, but Prince and Brehaut have been splitting reps throughout camp -- often relieving one another every three or four plays -- so they and the team are used to making the necessary adjustments.
"We've had plenty of practice at that over the past few weeks and I don't think it will be too much of an issue come Saturday," Prince said.
Peter Yoon covers UCLA for ESPNLosAngeles.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
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