UCLA QB battle 'wide open'
After a week of evaluating the quarterback position, UCLA head coach Jim Mora and his staff are . . . still evaluating.
The quarterbacks agree the competition is "wide open."
“(The coaches) haven’t said one single thing about who’s doing well (or) who’s doing bad,” senior quarterback Richard Brehaut said. “It’s wide open. They’re still in observe mode.”
The coaching staff has worked on a rotation to get a look at all of the quarterbacks this spring.
When spring practice opened last Tuesday, all six quarterbacks — seniors Kevin Prince and Richard Brehaut, redshirt freshman Brett Hundley, freshmen Jerry Neuheisel and T.J. Millweard, and freshman walk-on Mike Mike Fafaul — each got their turn in the spotlight.
Brehaut went from being the fourth guy in the rotation on Tuesday to receiving the bulk of the reps in team periods with Brett Hundley on Saturday.
On Thursday, it was Prince and Neuheisel in that position.
So far, no one has emerged as the frontrunner.
"When we go live, and we’re really moving the chains and trying to score points,” offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Noel Mazzone said, “that’s when you’ll see when guys will maybe separate themselves."
Mazzone is renowned for his work with quarterbacks.
It was well chronicled that then-Denver Broncos quarterback, Tim Tebow, was in town to work with Mazzone in February.
Tebow was joined in the sessions by San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers, whom Mazzone coached at North Carolina State.
Last season, Brock Osweiler was a 4,000-yard passer at Arizona State under Mazzone's tutelage.
Osweiler is expected to be taken in either the second or third round of the NFL Draft later this month.
Despite the "quarterback guru" tag that followed him to Westwood, Mazzone says the traits he looks for in a starting quarterback are no different than anybody else.
"We need a guy that can communicate well, because we’re trying to go as fast as we can and get the ball (out of their hands)," Mazzone said. “(Someone who will) get everybody on the same page out there. All the same stuff that every quarterback (coach) wants — some leadership skills and play with some urgency in their life.
“The same stuff everybody else does.”
Being involved in another quarterback battle is old hat for Prince and Brehaut, the senior members of the quarterback group.
This is the fourth straight year they have been involved in such a battle.
"I’m used to it," Brehaut said. “You should try and prove yourself in anything you do. This is a brand new staff. I can’t expect what’s happened in the past to carry over to now. This is a whole new year, a whole new offense, a new everything, and so I’ve got to prove myself day in and day out, everyday out here.”
Added Prince, “It’s football. It’s supposed to be competition,” he said. “It makes it so you have to go out here and be at your best everyday, and so it’s fine. It’s a part of the game. Every week is a competition in the regular season so why should practice be any different.”
Hundley got a taste of it last spring, but any hopes he had of continuing the competition were derailed after undergoing knee surgery last summer.
He feels more comfortable in the new offense, which he says is more of a traditional spread than the Pistol that was ran last season.
Hundley's isn't concerned about the competition with the other quarterbacks but with himself.
"The main thing it comes down to is bettering yourself to be better, and you know the byproduct will be getting the starting job because you know you’ve mastered your craft to the higher point of the competition," Hundley said.
Before the start of spring, Mora said he hoped to have a starter by the end of spring.
After the first week, the staff is still observing who they have at that position until someone rises to the forefront.