Sifting through the rubble of a 24-7 loss to Washington on Thursday night …
The drubbing on national television had UCLA fans jumping ship, with the words “humiliation” and “rock bottom” being bandied about on Bruins fan websites, along with calls for massive firings.
Meanwhile, some players chose to remain optimistic. Cornerback Aaron Hester assessed the remaining games against Arizona State and USC as winnable. The Bruins need to win both to become eligible for a low-profile bowl game.
“We can go to Tempe [Ariz.] and win, and then we come back for a rivalry game,” Hester said. “In a rivalry game, there are no favorites. Anybody can win.”
That “anybody” has been USC in 10 of the last 11 seasons.
Other players had concerns beyond getting to a bowl game.
“We can’t be worried about getting bowl-eligible; we have to worry about Arizona State and fixing what is wrong,” team captain Rahim Moore said.
Quarterback Richard Brehaut left the game in the third quarter after taking a hit to the head. UCLA officials first said Brehaut was “confused” and his return to the game was “questionable.” He did not return.
After the game, Coach Rick Neuheisel said, “We lost Richard to a concussion.” Yet, asked a few minutes later whether Brehaut had a concussion, he said, “We’ll let the doctors determine that.”
The only UCLA quarterback who wasn’t blistered by Neuheisel on the sidelines Thursday was Kevin Prince, who was back in Southern California rehabilitating his injured knee.
Brehaut completed five of 14 passes for 42 yards with one interception. Darius Bell missed on all three of his passes, one of which was intercepted and returned for a touchdown. Walk-on Clayton Tunney was one for eight with an interception.
All three received animated grillings by Neuheisel after their mistakes. But by the end of the game, the coach had calmed and was more charitable.
Of Bell, he said, “Darius is a great young quarterback and has a terrific future.... He struggled a little bit recognizing things, and it cost him and it cost us.”
As for Brehaut, Neuheisel said there were “things he certainly could do better, but he’s a young player and this is his fourth start. The road is a harder place to play.”