Pac-10 Analysis

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Has UCLA left last season's offensive woes behind?

It seemed fairly likely that UCLA would get by San Diego State in its 2009 season opener, even with its quarterback making his collegiate debut.

After all, the Bruins had never lost to the Aztecs in 21 meetings heading into Saturday's game.

But it remains to be seen whether UCLA -- which in 2008 ranked 116th out of 119 major college programs in total offense -- can orchestrate an offense that is capable of winning games in a tough Pac-10 slate.

Redshirt freshman Kevin Prince did not disappoint in his first start, leading the Bruins to a 33-14 victory by completing 18 of 29 pass attempts and throwing for 176 yards and one touchdown.

His performance helped UCLA score 30 consecutive points after it fell behind, 14-3, in the first quarter, and the Bruins defense didn't allow San Diego State any points for the final three quarters.

Head coach Rick Neuheisel said that Prince's two interceptions on the day were both "easily avoidable," adding that he was lucky to give the young signal-caller experience in the pocket without sacrificing a win.

"(Prince) showed that he could play at this level," Neuheisel said after the game. "He (also) showed that he is a freshman."

Last year, Kevin Craft quarterbacked the Bruins to a 4-8 record that put the team in eighth place in the conference, ahead of only Washington and Washington State.

Prince was good enough to beat Craft for the starting job this time around, but he'll have a much smaller margin for error than he did against the Aztecs when UCLA travels to Tennessee this weekend.

The Volunteers, which demolished Western Kentucky, 63-7, in their season opener, would love to build as much momentum as they can heading into a marquee matchup with top-ranked Florida. (Oh, and playing in Knoxville, Tenn., isn't easy -- just ask Cal.)

Luckily for Prince, the expectations seem pretty low for now.

After showing signs of promise in its loss to LSU, can Washington get over the hump this week?

Those who praised Washington's hiring of Steve Sarkisian were rewarded this past weekend when the Huskies managed to stay competitive against No. 11 LSU in a 31-23 loss.

The offense looked sharp as it out-gained the Tigers, 478-321.

More encouraging, perhaps, was the sight of a healthy Jake Locker playing comfortably in a new offensive system. Locker went 25 for 45 for 321 yards and threw two touchdowns along with an interception.

Despite winning the statistical battle, the Huskies simply committed too many mistakes for a team looking to pull off an upset. While it may seem odd to speak positively about a team following a loss, recall this is a squad that went winless in the 2008 season.

"I think the initial goal from what I said earlier in the week, is when this game is done that the other team respects us -- and I think they respect the Washington Husky football team," Sarkisian said.

Respect may have been earned, but for now the 15-game losing streak continues. This week's game against Idaho appears to be the game that Washington finally breaks through. If they don't, the Huskies will tie Oregon State for most consecutive losses by a Pac-10 program and, more importantly, negate almost all the promise that was created with last week's game.

Tags: UCLA, PAC-10 FOOTBALL, WASHINGTON


Contact Jeff Goodman and Jimmy Tran at [email protected]



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