Bruins QB Brehaut comfortable in leadership role
Richard Brehaut realized early in life that he simply prefers
being in charge. Even in Little League, he gravitated behind the
plate, figuring he could have the most control over the action as a
That’s a rare bit of good news for UCLA’s football team, which
can use all the leadership it can get before another season heads
south without a strong leader in the pocket.
Brehaut will make his third start at quarterback for the Bruins
(3-4, 1-3 Pac-10) on Saturday against No. 15 Arizona. He has
started two of UCLA’s past three games, but Kevin Prince’s knee
surgery last weekend means the Bruins belong to Brehaut for the
final five games.
”All my life I’ve been a leader, in sports and even just
amongst my friends,” Brehaut said. ”When guys are messing up,
when they need help, I like to be able to give it to them. I like
being in that position where your leadership is worth
At Los Osos High School in suburban Rancho Cucamonga, Brehaut
was a three-year captain of the football team and a two-year
captain of the baseball team, winning MVP honors in both sports. He
turned those multisport skills into a football scholarship to UCLA,
but lost the starting competition last fall to fellow freshman
Prince, who picked up the nuances of the Bruins’ offense more
Brehaut got into six games as a backup last season, but his play
didn’t exactly leave the Bruins’ coaches and fans wanting to see
more. Even last month, after going through a full training camp
while Prince sat out with another injury, UCLA coach Rick Neuheisel
didn’t sound sold on Brehaut’s long-term prospects in Westwood.
”When Richard goes into games, he still has two or three things
that happen that he doesn’t quite have an answer as to why he let
that happen,” Neuheisel said. ”That’s not uncommon for somebody
at his age or at that point in his career, especially now that
we’ve made the QB the decision-maker at every point in our offense.
Richard went in and ran plays that he’s run in practice, and a
couple of things inexplicably happened that we didn’t have an
answer for, and neither did he.”
Brehaut overcame most of those concerns with steady improvements
in practice, followed by post-practice workouts with his receivers
in one of the NCAA’s worst passing offenses. After mopping up in
the Bruins’ blowout loss to Stanford, he got his first career start
against Washington State when Prince hurt his knee during UCLA’s
upset win over Texas.
Brehaut passed for 128 yards without an interception, doing his
best work handing off to the Bruins tailbacks. Then 2 1/2 weeks
later, Brehaut drew the starting assignment at No. 1 Oregon – and
it went about as well as could be expected, with Brehaut passing
for 159 yards in another blowout loss.
”I think Richard is playing with confidence,” Neuheisel said.
”It’s important that it’s not false confidence, but he’s working
real hard to get the job done.”
UCLA faces the Wildcats ranked 117th out of 120 FBS teams in
passing offense – rocketing up from 118th last week – with just
104.6 yards per game. Brehaut knows Arizona fields the Pac-10’s top
two pass-rushing defensive ends, and the quarterback also realizes
novice left tackle Micah Kia will be protecting the right-hander’s
blind side while Sean Sheller serves a one-week suspension for an
undisclosed violation of team rules.
And as those after-practice sessions in the Pacific mist show,
Brehaut still has confidence in his receivers, even with starter
Ricky Marvray suspended for a week for the same violation. The
quarterback hasn’t changed his approach at all while moving up to
take over the first-team offense in practice.
”The only difference is Kevin isn’t here to throw around ideas
with,” Brehaut said. ”While he’s out, I’m trying to take on more
of a leadership role. I’m really excited to do that, and then get
us back on the winning track.”