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November 7, 2009It has been a long time coming and the Bruins didn't always help their cause turning the ball over five times, three of them fumbles and two interceptions. Still UCLA found a way to get back in the winning column for the first time in six tries.
"We are thrilled with the victory," UCLA head coach Rick Neuheisel said. "We are going to enjoy it for a day and then look and see how we made all those mistakes and survived. There were some great things today with our throwing game getting the ball down the field to our receivers."
Redshirt freshman quarterback Kevin Prince was off to his best game as a Bruin hitting on 13-17 passes for 212 yards and a touchdown. He did throw one interception, but that was about the only mistake he made, except not sliding when he was running. He ended getting a concussion on helmet-to-helmet collision and was on the bench for the rest of the game.
"It was a tough play," Neuheisel said. "The NCAA is trying to crack down on the helmet-to-helmet contact, but when you are going full speed, it's a tough deal.
"We have had it happen to us, but those are bang-bang calls and you can't mad at anybody," Neuheisel said. "I don't think there is any need for discipline. Kevin (Prince) made a great decision to run on that play, but now we'll have to work on that slide."
That's the way things have gone for the Bruins during that horrendous month of October. Just when things looked like they would mend, then bam, something would get in the way, but that was then and this is now.
The Bruins needed to keep their offensive mojo going and they turned to Richard Brehaut and some more wildcat featuring redshirt freshman Milton Knox.
Out of the wildcat, Knox rushes for nine and half yards getting the ball inside the one, but the Bruins were called for an illegal formation. It was penalties like this one that has plagued the Bruins all year even when they were winning so instead of having the ball inside the one. It is first and goal from the 15.
It gets worse Brehaut gets sacked and fumbles the ball on third down and the Huskies recovered at the Washington 23 yard line.
Neuheisel used this sequence for a teachable moment.
"Richard (Brehaut) went in when Kevin (Prince) was hurt and there were a couple of mistakes, the illegal formation, he didn't line up correctly and that's what you go over in practice and then the fumble on third down," Neuheisel said. "I have to send a message to Richard that this is hard, competing at this level. I'm not down on him and I'm still trying to get him more playing time, because I believe in him."
Brehaut's inexperience gave senior quarterback Kevin Craft an opportunity to help his team shake the memories of 0 for October with a new beginning in November and for a guy who hadn't had a rep in practice for two weeks, he came through in fine standing.
Craft ended up hitting on 10-14 passes for 159 yards and touchdown against one interception.
"When his (Kevin Craft) number was called, I told him this was his opportunity," Craft said. "I know there were a couple of plays he wishes he had back. Considering how little practice time he had this week, I'm proud of him."
The wide receivers as a group had their best day of the season led by an emerging Nelson Rosario who had seven receptions for 111 yards. Senior Terrence Austin had five catches for 88 yards and a touchdown. Sophomore Taylor Embree had three grabs for 55 yards.
While the defense was far from perfect, they made plays and were very stout when the UCLA offense turned the ball over. Though the Bruins turned the ball over five times, the defense only gave up 13 points.
After one turnover the Huskies had a six play, 18 yard drive and settled for a field goal. On another turnover, the Huskies had a four play drive for two yards and settled for three again. Their lone touchdown off a turnover was a four play 50 yard drive with one big play on a Jake Locker to Jermaine Kearse 34-yard hookup.
True freshman Sheldon Price who the opposition has gone after quite a bit since replacing an injured Aaron Hester had his best day as a Bruin accounting for eight tackles and getting enough of the pigskin so a hustling, ball hawking Rahim Moore would be able to pick off the game saving pass.
"Games like this come down to big time plays by big time players," Neuheisel said regarding Moore's interception. "Give credit to Sheldon Price on that play. He's been targeted because he's a newcomer.
"People are trying to pick on him (S. Price) and he hasn't made a bunch of plays. But as he gets more confident he has the opportunity to be one of the best corners in this league. To get the ball tipped up and have Rahim make the play shows significant growth."
Well it took a month, but the Bruins finally are back in the winning column. They overcame their mistakes and still found a way to get the W.
The offense is showing some life coming up with 455 total yards, compared to Washington's 387. They had 23 first downs while the Huskies had 21.
The running game was pretty much taken away by Washington, but it was helped out by a solid effort from sophomore, Derrick Coleman, who had 52 yards on 13 carries and Milton Knox playing quarterback out of the wildcat gaining 37 yards.