Norm Chow has been known as an offensive genius. He has won National Championships, league titles and groomed three Heisman Trophy winners. The quarterbacks he has helped develop reads like a who’s who of College Football:
Steve Young, Robbie Bosco, Ty Detmer (Heisman), Steve Sarkisian, Carson Palmer (Heisman), Matt Leinart (Heisman), Phillip Rivers as well as Vince Young when he worked with the Tennessee Titans. In 2010, Chow will try to add to his legend.
The 2010 UCLA Bruins will incorporate a new offense known as “the pistol”. It is the same offense that Tommie Frazier and the Nebraska Cornhuskers used to win the 1995 NCAA Championship. Recently, it has been the key to the Nevada Wolfpac of the Western Athletic Conference finishing second in the nation in rushing offense. The formation is a blend of the option and shotgun and is perfect for quarterbacks that can run AND throw. Terrelle Prior of Ohio State, Robert Griffen of Baylor, Colin Kapernick of Nevada and Tim Tebow while at Florida come immediately to mind.
Therein lies the problem. The Pistol works when you have a dual threat quarterback as well as a strong running game. Unfortunately for the Bruins, they have neither. UCLA will once again use a running back by committee approach as they had no runner rush for more than 566 yards or 5 touchdowns. Freshman Malcom Jones, a top 25 recruit nationally, would seem to fill the void, however, there is talk of starting him at fullback. If this were the option, a backfield of Jones and sophomore Jonathan Franklin would be inspired. That brings us to the true reason why the pistol is doomed to fail – quarterback play.
Compared to recent quarterbacks in Westwood, sophomore Kevin Prince showed the promise of turning into a fine signal caller. He threw for 2,050 yards with 8 touchdowns and ran for 179 yards and added another score. The numbers would have been better had he not missed four games due to a variety of injuries. Look at the rushing total. 179 yards on 68 carries for a 2.6 yards per carry average. That does not scream dual threat. His returning backup, Richard Brehaut fielded a total of -43 yards. This past offseason, UCLA failed to recruit a quarterback, given their youth at the position. So how will the pistol work?
The team ran into problems running it during the spring and it will be interesting to see how the situation develops when training camp begins. The 2009 Bruins were 6-6 at the end of the regular season and earned their Eagle Bank Bowl invitation when one of the service academies failed to qualify. While I believe that the team has the potential to reach their second bowl game under Rick Neuheisel, I guarantee that if the Bruins attempt to primarily use this new offense, the fans will be counting down the days until basketball begins.
About the Author
Written by Sergio Paredes
Sergio Paredes is a Sports Information Director for a K-12 school in Los Angeles, California. An avid football, basketball and baseball fan, he enjoys following the Texas Longhorns, Oregon State Beavers, Sacramento Kings, Atlanta Falcons, Seattle Seahawks, San Francisco Giants and Tampa Bay Rays.