By Arash Markazi, SI.com
PASADENA, Calif. -- Expectations were low for Kevin Craft, who went from third-string transfer to a starting quarterback for UCLA in a matter of months after Ben Olson and Patrick Cowan went down with the injuries.
Craft has certainly lived down to his expectations so far. He tossed four interceptions in the first half of UCLA's season opener against Tennessee, each one as perplexing as the next. None have been close to their intended targets, whatever they might be.
His last pass of the half, which was intercepted by Nevin McKenzie and returned 61 yards for a touchdown, was more of an indictment on Rick Neuheisel and Norm Chow's play-calling than anything else. With a chance to go into the half tied 7-7 after a Chad Cunningham punt was blocked by Akeem Ayers and returned by Sean Westgate for a touchdown, Craft was inexplicably dropping back to pass at midfield with less than a minute left.
While many in the press box wondered if it was time for Chris Forcier to step in at quarterback, the truth is the coaches aren't comfortable putting the redshirt freshman in the game as one staffer called him "uncoachable" before the season. Normally that kind of criticism would be fine for a fourth-string quarterback, but when that player becomes the only legitimate back-up for a starter who looks like a deer in headlights you have problems.
Whoever the quarterback may be isn't going to be given a lot of help anyways as the Bruins injured woes continued in the first half with TE Logan Paulsen suffering a fracture right foot and receiver Marcus Everett dislocating his big right toe. Neither will return. RB Kalil Bell sprained his left ankle and will try to come back.
* I know the Rose Bowl isn't the easiest stadium to sell out. With over 90,000 seats its one of the largest in the country, but c'mon UCLA. If you're going to take full page ads out in the newspaper claiming that "The Football Monopoly in Los Angeles is Over," you can't have entire sections be empty for a nationally televised game against Tennessee on Labor Day. Most of the seats under the north and south scoreboards are empty although I can't really say they're missing much.
* Tennessee probably has the most informative and aesthetically pleasing pre-game notes packet in college football. Not only is it well designed (text on quarterback's armband and pie charts) but there's also a fun Page 3 edition. In this week's edition Josh Brisco is featured in the Double Take look-alike section with Billy D. Williams, Cody Pop's Top Five places to surf (Cardiff Beach in San Diego is No. 1) and Vladimir Richard aka "Vlad The Extoller," who has a weekly feature where he "waxes philosophic on current events," talks about women's gymnastics. "he crazy thing about that sport is that when you get be the age of 21, you're out of your prime as an athlete. I'm 21 now, so that's crazy."
* It may be another picture-perfect night at the Rose Bowl, but with UCLA's offense struggling Tennessee would be wise to stay away from kicking long field goals. Daniel Lincoln has already missed two from 51 and 55 yards that should have been punted and pinned UCLA inside it's 20. At the pace Craft is going, he'll be the best scoring threat Tennessee has.