Neuheisel, UCLA in trouble after 4 straight losses

BY foxsports • October 27, 2009

A month later, that track looks awfully bent, if not broken.

After four straight losses in Pac-10 play, culminating in last weekend's 27-13 defeat at Arizona, Neuheisel still believes his project can be salvaged with a bowl berth - even if his offense's inept play and the Bruins' daunting schedule suggests it'll be tough.

"I don't think we're falling apart," Neuheisel said. "I think we're frustrated, which is a by-product of a losing streak, and I know everybody wants to fix it. And the key is, rather than to point fingers, is to look inside yourself and play better."

With a visit to orange-and-black Oregon State looming on Halloween, the Bruins realize they're running out of time to prevent their season from becoming another fright.

Neuheisel is a former UCLA quarterback who became an offensive guru at Colorado and Washington and more recently with the Baltimore Ravens, but his combined brainpower with respected offensive coordinator Norm Chow has produced an offense that's managing just 296.1 yards and 20 points per game.

UCLA runs the ball just slightly better than last season's historically inept rushing game did, while too many turnovers and an inconsistent passing scheme have put an inordinate burden on UCLA's defense.

Last weekend in Tucson, the Bruins' defense forced five turnovers leading directly to 13 points, including Tony Dye's fumble return for UCLA's only touchdown. But the UCLA offense did little, dropping Neuheisel to 3-10 in Pac-10 play in his 1 1/2 seasons in charge at his alma mater.

Safety Rahim Moore leads the nation with seven interceptions. Defensive tackle Brian Price has made a conference-best 11 1/2 tackles for losses. Linebacker Reggie Carter is playing valiantly with an injured knee.

But unless the offense gets going, none of it will mean much to UCLA's record. The Bruins have the Pac-10's ninth-worst offense in rushing, passing, total offense and scoring.

"We are trying to develop something and build something, and we're going to continue to develop and build," Neuheisel said. "I understand frustration, how those looking closely can be frustrated. We certainly hoped for better results, but all I know how to do is strive for better results."

Neuheisel said Kevin Prince again will be his starting quarterback despite another inconsistent game, but also declared freshman Richard Brehaut will play. Neuheisel played both quarterbacks and senior Kevin Craft last Saturday, but none of the three did much.

Neuheisel's inability to develop a standout quarterback is surprising, and he acknowledges the Bruins might not make any progress until somebody emerges from the pack.

"He wasn't sharp on Saturday," Neuheisel said of Prince. "I wish that he were, but he wasn't. So we made a switch, but it doesn't mean I can't go back to him and still have full confidence in him, just like a starting pitcher sometimes gets pulled early in an outing. I want the young quarterbacks to play without fear of a quick hook, but they also have to go out there and play well."

UCLA must win three of its last five games to gain bowl eligibility with a .500 mark. The Bruins have only missed bowl eligibility twice in their past 12 seasons, including Neuheisel's debut campaign.

"I would be disappointed if we don't make the postseason this year," Neuheisel said. "But I've said I believe we have what we need to get that accomplished."

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