It may not be as critical a battle as it was last year, but the quarterback competition is still key for the season, because having a credible backup behind Brett Hundley gives UCLA a safety net in the event of a minor injury to Hundley. This spring, T.J. Millweard, Jerry Neuheisel, and Mike Fafaul factored into the competition for the backup spot, and the big takeaway from the spring is that none of them emerged so definitively as a backup that this competition is anywhere near solved. That means that we'll have to wait until San Bernardino, and the arrival of Asiantii Woulard, before we know exactly how the depth chart is going to shake out.
Brett Hundley had a fine spring camp, clearly working on his decision making. As a whole, he went through his reads much quicker, and made better decisions on whether to tuck and run. Probably the most exciting development is that he is clearly faster and more explosive than he was a year ago, which could mean that he'll be more comfortable tucking and running this year, which was an underutilized part of his game last year. His throwing was up and down, and he still has some issues with overthrowing long passes. He's better on slants than he was, though, with fewer thrown to the back shoulder than last year.
T.J. Millweard RS FR, 6'3, 225: Millweard has gone, in a year's time, from someone who had a nearly broken throwing motion to a serviceable scout team quarterback. He's really made a huge leap, and given the pace and rate at which he's developed, there's little reason to believe that he couldn't make similar strides by this same time next year, to the point where he could develop into a quality backup quarterback. His throwing motion is much more compact, and, with tighter mechanics, his arm strength has gotten much better. He still throws ducks on occasion, and he's not quite consistent with his new mechanics yet, but he's grown tremendously. Physically, he's also worked on his body, looking much trimmer. He's still a long ways away, and if the season started tomorrow, UCLA would likely have some serious trepidation throwing him into a game, but it'll be very interesting to see how he develops over the summer.
Jerry Neuheisel RS FR, 6'1, 210: Heading into spring, we had Neuheisel as, more or less, the presumptive favorite to hold down the backup spot at least until Woulard arrived on campus, given his knowledge of the offense and the high regard the coaching staff has for him. After spring, the situation is decidedly murky. Neuheisel, who's pretty close to his ceiling athletically, struggled with both his decision making and his arm strength throughout spring, frequently throwing into coverage or putting too little on throws to the outside. His accuracy, which had previously been a strength of his, was simply not as good this spring, and he'll need to improve greatly to maintain the backup spot through the fall. As it stands now, we'd have Neuheisel and Millweard more or less neck and neck for the backup job, and given the rate at which Millweard as progressed, we could easily see Millweard overtaking Neuheisel by the end of the summer.
Where Things Project:
Having not seen Woulard, it's difficult to say what the depth chart will be heading into the season. That said, the depth chart is wide open. Neither Neuheisel nor Millweard did anything so well that either has seized the job, and neither, at this point, is close to the level that UCLA really needs from the backup position in the event of a Hundley absence. If the games started right now, given the comfort level of the staff, we'd have to guess that Neuheisel would get the nod in the event of a Hundley injury. However, given the way that Millweard has developed, and the way that Neuheisel's development has stagnated, we'd anticipate that he could overtake Neuheisel by August. Woulard, if he can learn the offense quickly and demonstrates the physical tools to play early, could factor into the competition, but that's probably a tall order for a true freshman who's still raw in the fundamentals of the position. If he wows the coaches in San Bernardino, he could get the No. 2 slot, but for now, we'll have to go with the beard.
One caveat: consider this the depth chart in the event of a minor Hundley ankle sprain. If he were to suffer a more serious injury, the coaches would most likely reevaluate the depth chart based on number of games left in the season, upside of each player, and various other factors, which could give Woulard a better chance of factoring in.
Our Guess at the Depth Chart for Nevada:
Brett Hundley RS SO
T.J. Millweard RS FR
Jerry Neuheisel RS FR
Asiantii Woulard FR
Mike Fafaul RS FR
Spring Recap: Quarterbacks
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