Saturday, April 12, 2008

Cowan in the Lead

So, the big news coming out of Spring practice this week is that Patrick Cowan is in the lead for the quarterback spot. The coaching staff says they haven't settled on him as the starter just yet, but actions speak louder than words. Cowan has taken the majority of the reps with the first string in today's scrimmage and Ben Olson has been relegated to the second team.

Norm Chow had an interesting quote this last week. He said that Cowan has the stronger arm of the two leading quarterbacks. That goes against the conventional wisdom that us Bruin fans have known for the last two season... mainly that Olson was the stronger passer.

Chow tried to downplay the fact that Cowan was getting more time with the first string:
"We're not coming off the mountain making a sermon saying 'This is the anointed guy,'" Chow said. "There is no big master plan. Rick and I have been around quarterbacks long enough that we'll know. The quarterbacks know that there is only one ball."

However, Ben seems to know that his chance of being annointed the starter again for this next season is starting to slip away:

"I wouldn't say it's going well," Olson said. "I felt like I did some good things (Thursday), getting the opportunities that I'm given.

"I'm not where I need to be. I don't think anybody is. We're learning the new stuff and it's going to take time. You're out here watching and you're seeing a lot of mistakes."

After today's scrimmage he had these rather stark and honest assesments about how he thinks things are going:
Olson said he was disappointed not to be given a chance to compete.
According to one Inside UCLA reader, Olson looked lost and hesitant during the scrimmage. Meanwhile, Cowan had a couple nice drives and it sounds like he is impressing the new coaching staff.

I have to say, I gave up on Olson last season. He just doesn't have the quick decision making that Cowan does. Sure, he looks impressive off the field, but the dude just doesn't have it when it comes to real game-time situations. He hesitates and double-pumps a lot. Add that to the fact that he is kind of fragile out there on the field. He gets hurt easily and both knees have been banged up. He wasn't very mobile to begin with but now he's just a liability when the ball is in his hands.

I'm glad to see the coaching staff isn't going on reputation alone. Cowan wasn't highly regarded or recruited coming out of high school but he's proven to be the better player. He's a competitor and without Pat's grit and determination, UCLA would never have beaten USC in 2006 nor Washington and California in 2007. He also has a much, much, much better pocket awareness than Ben. He's better at avoiding the pressure and that's going to be a necessary skill with our limited offensive line talent this season.

If this trend continues, I think we could see Olson transfer this summer. I don't think he'd sit on the bench as a senior. That would leave Craft as a pretty good backup. He's done some good things this spring and I can see him developing even further as he learns more of the offense. Ultimately, whatever happens with the QB depth, I think this team will be just fine with the players that remain. Cowan was my first choice anyways and there are some good young players in the pipeline behind him.

3 comments:

Mikey Likes It! said...

Cowan should have been the man for the past two years. Perhaps this was KD's biggest mistake.

Olson just as well transfer because he was given three shots at the starting job and he didn't do well. Cowan, at least, beat SC.

Olson must also consider that no one wants a repeat of the last two years Wherefore he may not even be named the third string QB.

My advice: Tranfer Ben! Tranfer so a Division 1-AA and play immediately. You may be a star in 1-AA and take a shot as a free agent in the pro draft. You have not shot in the pros if you are not a division 1-A starter.

Mikey Likes It! said...

Cowan should have been the man for the past two years. Perhaps this was KD's biggest mistake. Admittedly there were other offensive problems.

Olson just as well transfer because he was given three shots at the starting job and he didn't do well. Cowan, at least, beat SC.

Olson must also consider that no one wants a repeat of the last two years wherefore he could even be named the third string QB behind Craft.

My advice: Tranfer Ben! Transfer to a Division 1-AA and play immediately as opposed to losing a year of eligibility which is the NCAA division 1 rule. You may be a star in 1-AA and if so take a shot as a free agent in the pro draft. In truth you have little, if any chance in the pros if you remain at UCLA and are not the starter.

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