Can UCLA's Quarterback Play Get Worse?

The quarterback play was bad last year, but this year.... well be patient.

It was a twisted sort of optimism that came with the UCLA offense this season — the quarterback play couldn’t get worse than last season, so things had to get better. Right?

It’s too early to say for sure, but UCLA fans may want to start working on their patience now.

Kevin Prince was anointed the knight in shining armor by coach Rick Neuheisel. The red-shirt freshman out of Crespi High School with the big arm ran the scout team at the start of last season but was seen as an upgrade over Kevin Craft, who threw 20 interceptions last season, four of which were returned for touchdowns.

But at least on Monday morning, it looked like a case of “meet the new boss, same as the old boss.” Both Prince and Craft have thrown a frightening number of interceptions through the first few days of camp, which has UCLA fans a little bit nervous.

The good news is they have Norm Chow on the sidelines, the offensive coordinator who may be the best developer of quarterbacks in the college game. He’s not worried, or at least not acting like he is. Either way the confidence is rubbing off a little as Prince has shown moments of starting to look better, like working his way through his progressions.

And the offensive line might give him the time to do it, a luxury Craft often did not have last season.

While UCLA fans are impatient for improvement, they will still need to take a deep breath and relax a few times this season. That is because Prince, talented as he may be, is a freshman who has not played a down of live football in a game for a season and a half (he had a knee injury halfway through his high school senior season). He may be mature for his age, but reading the two-deep zone and blitz packages that Tennessee is going to throw at him is something else entirely.

Prince himself is going to have to be patient, too. He is going to have to take a few sacks this season, he is going to have to hold on to the ball and not force it into coverage. That’s what UCLA did last season and it got them one of their worst records in school history.

The only way it can get worse is if he is not patient.

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