Coach Rick Neuheisel got just about everything he wanted out of UCLA's quarterback competition--except for a No. 1 quarterback.
Neuheisel announced Tuesday night that Kevin Prince and Richard Brehaut would both play in the Bruins opener Saturday against Houston and that the camp-long competiton for the quarterback job would spill over into the regular season.
Prince will start, but Neuheisel steadfastly insisted that Brehaut would come off the bench and get some playing time -- saying that even if Prince starts off with a flurry of first-half touchdowns, Brehaut would still come into the game.
Neuheisel created this competition to get Prince and Brehaut to push each another to another level and he seems to have gotten exactly what he bargained for. But his insistence on playing both quarterbacks indicates he truly is undecided after watching both play in camp and he wants to get a look at both players in game situations before making a final call.
"The competition is continuing," Neuheisel said. "This is not so everybody feels good, this is so that the competition continues. So that people are understanding that we’re going to play this position well, we’re going to play it consistently and both players are capable of doing that and I’m going to expect it from them."
Nonconference games against Houston and San Jose State to open the season give Neuheisel the luxury of doing so without risking falling behind in the Pac-12 standings, though he said he would have done so even if the opening game opponent was Stanford.
Prince and Brehaut haven't made the decision easy because both have displayed clear strengths and improved weaknesses over the course of training camp. The Bruins run game is better oiled with Prince at the helm and the passing attack is more dynamic with Brehaut behind center.
Clearly you can't play a season splitting reps based on what plays you are going to call, but Prince is a good enough passer and Brehaut can get the ball moving on the ground well enough to keep defenses off balance. And that is why Neuheisel is having such a difficult time choosing between the two.
"They both have their unique strengths and weaknesses," Neuheisel said. "But I do believe both bring something to the table that’s valuable to UCLA football and to our program and that’s why both deserve to get into the game."
The perfect scenario, Neuheisel said, is that both players play well and continue to play well all season. If splitting the quarterback job leads to success for the team, then Prince and Brehaut will split reps the entire season. And Prince and Brehaut are just fine with that.
"Kevin and I are both rooting for each other, rooting for the team really when the other is in," Brehaut said. "Whoever is at quarterback, we’re going to be rooting for the UCLA Bruins to come out on top."
But eventually, you would think one of the quarterbacks is going to have to come out on top. Rare is the team that has success with a dual-quarterback system. Steve Spurrier had some success with it in his days at Florida. Urban Meyer alternated Chris Leak and Tim Tebow at Florida, but Tebow came in during specific situations to run specific packages so it wasn't a true two-quarterback system.
"I understand having played this position myself that when you get it you want to play it and you want the whole enchilada," Neuheisel said. "I don’t expect either one of these guys to be any different. I’m not asking them to diminish their goals or diminish their aspirations to be the one and only starting quarterback at UCLA. But until one separates themselves from the other, because of where they’ve come from and what they’ve done for this program, both deserve to play."