UCLA football: Bruins still looking for a backup quarterback
There is a quarterback competition going on for UCLA.
It’s just that no one is winning it right now.
Brett Hundley gives the Bruins what every team wants, an experienced quarterback who already has NFL scouts drooling. Plan B, though, is still in the planning stages.
First-year freshman Asiantii Woulard seems to be the future of the program after Hundley leaves. However, if Hundley is unable to play at some point this season, offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone isn’t sure who would replace him.
The top candidates are T.J. Millweard and Jerry Neuheisel, two redshirt freshmen, with walk-on Mike Fafaul as the longshot. In the right circumstances, Woulard could be the choice.
“I’m looking for consistency,” Mazzone said. “They all flash it. I’m just looking for someone to put a string of plays together instead of three or four good ones, then a couple bad ones. The one who can start maintaining his focus through the whole course of practice will take the lead.”
So who would Mazzone turn to tomorrow?
“I’d have to do a straw poll,” he said.
Neuheisel, though, said that no one is looking to be the No. 2.
“It’s an honor to be named a backup quarterback, but as a competitor you never want to be named the backup quarterback,” Neuheisel said. “We’re always trying to compete with Brett. It wouldn’t be a good quarterback room if we didn’t try to push Brett.”
If the unthinkable happened, Neuheisel said, “Whoever had to go in for Brett, their job would be to make sure Brett never gets the job back.”
It’s unclear whom that would be.
“We all need to do a better job, be more consistent,” Neuheisel said.
Mazzone, though, likes the candidates.
“They have all gotten better,” Mazzone said. “They have all come a long way, and it is very competitive. I feel good about one of them after one practice, then he doesn’t do too good the next practice and someone else flashes.”
Left tackle Simon Goines, a key player on the UCLA offense, injured his right knee during a live scrimmage Thursday. He was helped off the field and was later carted to the training room.
UCLA Coach Jim Mora said after practice that Goines suffered a hyperextended knee and was not scheduled to have an MRI exam or X-ray.
“It’s minor,” Mora said. “He’ll be all right.”
Redshirt freshman Connor McDermott stepped in for Goines at the left tackle spot, which has to protect Hundley’s blind side.
The best-case scenario is Goines returns and the Bruins move forward. But offensive line coach Adrian Klemm has options if Goines’ return is delayed. UCLA has built some depth on the line, though Klemm said, “We’re young. We have injected some talent, but some of the guys have barely been here.”
It’s a versatile group, with many capable of playing multiple line positions.
“We have talent,” Klemm said. “We just need some experience in some places.”
Goines’ injury reinforced Mora’s concerns about live scrimmages. He has curtailed the hitting this week.
“It’s a delicate dance,” Mora said. “There are 22 UCLA Bruins going after each other. If we were scrimmaging another team, there would be 11. When 22 are going at it, that doubles your chances getting someone hurt. I don’t like that.”
Linebacker Jeremy Castro is unlikely to rejoin the team, according to a person familiar with the situation who was not authorized to speak on the matter. Castro has not been in training camp because of a university issue. … Mora expects to have many of the players sidelined by concussion symptoms back by next week. Running back Malcolm Jones and tackle Poasi Moala, both sidelined by concussions, did some individual work Thursday.
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