Taylor Embree, Randall Carroll, Shaq Evans and Ricky Marvray were suspended for one game after the Pac-12 reviewed video of a brawl against the Wildcats late in the first half. The benches-clearing fight started with a lot of talking between UCLA's receivers and Arizona's defensive backs (four of whom are suspended for at least a half for their game at Washington this week).
UCLA still has leading receiver Nelson Rosario (30 catches for 558 yards) and tight end Joseph Fauria (15 catches for 216 yards and four touchdowns). Look for speedy Josh Smith (six catches, 158 yards) to start opposite Rosario, but UCLA won't have another active wide receiver who has caught a pass this season.
"It's not ideal," Neuheisel said.
"We'll have to use a personnel grouping with two wide receivers. ... It's a precarious situation -- that's true. With our athletes and the stuff we can do in the running game, we can neutralize the effect of it."
UCLA wants to lead with its running game, anyway, but the Bruins failed to get that untracked last week, gaining only 37 yards on 25 attempts vs. Arizona. UCLA fell behind early and then couldn't catch up with its passing game.
The lack of available targets will make life even more difficult for quarterback Kevin Prince, who at least made it through a game from start to finish last week without being injured or pulled for ineffectiveness. He threw for 286 yards but was only 17 of 35 passing.
At wideout, it looks as if Jerry Johnson (who has been rehabbing a broken ankle from last season) might play, and sophomore walk-on Jerry Rice Jr. could see the first playing time of his career. Running back Jordon James could line up out wide, too.
"(Rice) has been chomping at the bit to play," Neuheisel said. "We've got other ways we can play 11-man football. We'll use all of them."
UCLA (3-4 overall, 2-2 Pac-12) also has true freshman Devin Lucien, but it might not make sense to pull him out of his redshirt with five regular-season games to go.
--Coach Rick Neuheisel said he has addressed the issue of his presumably shaky job security with his team, telling them to "forget all the outside stuff." Neuheisel added: "Nothing can be accomplished by worrying about that. We do the best we can, and we have to have the right mindset to go forward. That mindset has to be about playing a complete football game and enjoying playing with one another and looking forward rather than looking backward."
--In addition to the four wide receivers who are suspended for the Cal game (Taylor Embree, Randall Carroll, Shaq Evans and Ricky Marvray), sophomore OG Alberto Cid is suspended for the first half of this week's game, and sophomore DT Cassius Marsh is out for the next two games.
--UCLA is hoping that its Nov. 5 game against Arizona State in the Rose Bowl can still have implications in the Pac-12 South race. UCLA (2-2) enters this week trailing ASU by a game. That game will kick off at 4:30 p.m. and be telecast on Versus, it was announced Monday.
SERIES HISTORY: UCLA leads Cal 49-31-1 (last meeting, 2010, 35-7 Cal)
SCOUTING THE OFFENSE: The Bruins will be in a bad way if they can't run the ball with Johnathan Franklin and Derrick Coleman against Cal, which ranks 27th nationally against the run, allowing 115.6 yards per game. The Pistol offense really needs a running threat at quarterback, and while Kevin Prince is a decent runner, he's not going to strike fear in an opponent. Cal has been stingy vs. the run against everybody but Oregon (understandably so) and held Utah to 13 net yards last week, when it stuffed RB John White. The only experienced wideouts on UCLA -- Nelson Rosario and Josh Smith -- are big-play threats -- but they haven't been so consistently.
SCOUTING THE DEFENSE: UCLA is 106th nationally in total defense (436.1 yards allowed per game) and 108th in scoring defense (34.4 points per game). The secondary has been banged up and is still without S Tony Dye because of a neck injury. The defensive front isn't getting any pressure, with the Bruins having only six sacks in seven games and tied for 107th nationally in tackles for loss. Cal QB Zach Maynard is a dual threat, and receivers Keenan Allen and Marvin Jones could be the best combo in the Pac-12. UCLA will have to deal with Maynard rolling out, which he did more of last week against Utah.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "Our offense unfortunately is not one that lends itself to being behind by a great deal. When we fall behind, we come out of our ability to control the ball." -- Coach Rick Neuheisel
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
THIS WEEK'S GAME: Cal at UCLA, Oct. 29 -- The Bears really pushed around UCLA last season, rushing for 304 yards while holding the Bruins to 26 yards on the ground. That doesn't bode well for a UCLA team that was handled in the trenches last week by Arizona, which has two of the least experienced lines in the country. In terms of getting to six wins to be bowl eligible, this game is a key one for 3-4 UCLA, which will be underdogs vs. ASU and at USC.
KEYS TO THE GAME: Churn out first downs. Cal, as it did last week against Utah, is going to stack against the run and take its chances against the quarterback. That will make it tough for the Bruins, who want to make their living on the ground, but they have talented and tough running backs Johnathan Franklin and Derrick Coleman. UCLA doesn't want to have to rely on the passing of QB Kevin Prince and a short-handed receiving corps.
PLAYERS TO WATCH:
QB Brett Hundley -- The true freshman hasn't yet played, but this game has to be about the point of no return to take off his redshirt. Hundley moved into a second-string role when Richard Brehaut suffered a broken leg two games ago. Coach Rick Neuheisel said he thought about using Hundley last week at Arizona. Hundley could be the spark the team needs. "If you decide to go to Brett Hundley, you do it the rest of the time, or at least a package," Neuheisel said. "I want to make sure he's ready for that. I want it to be a worthwhile venture. I'm not thinking about me, I'm thinking about him."
C Kai Maiava -- The senior is the hub of an offensive line that needs to be more physical after last week's dismal performance vs. Arizona. He'll see a lot of Cal NT Aaron Tipoti, who has been solid since taking over as a starter for the past three games, playing a critical spot in the Bears' 3-4 front.
LB Patrick Larimore -- He was steaming over the defense's poor play at Arizona, and now he'll get to something about it vs. Cal. He leads the team with 46 tackles, ranking 12th in the Pac-12 with 6.6 per game.
--S Tony Dye, UCLA's most accomplished defensive back, has missed the past four games because of a neck injury and is considering taking a medical redshirt.
--S Alex Mascarenas, who is also the holder, has missed the past three games because of a concussion.
--OG Chris Ward (knee) was questionable at worst early this week for Saturday's game vs. Cal.
--CB Andrew Abbott (shoulder) is probable.
--CB Aaron Hester (shoulder) is probable.
--QB Richard Brehaut suffered a broken leg Oct. 8 and could be out for the rest of the season.
--PK Kim Smith (hip) remains out. Tyler Gonzalez, a former men's soccer manager at UCLA, was 1 of 2 on field goal attempts vs. Arizona, missing from 39 and hitting from 42.
--CB Jamie Graham is out indefinitely because of a sprained knee. Graham, a graduate student transfer from Vanderbilt, has played in only parts of two games this season because of knee problems.
--F-back Anthony Barr underwent arthroscopic knee surgery on Sept. 30 and has not played since.
--CB Anthony Jefferson (bulging disc) has been doing some work in practice. A broken foot cost him nine games of his true freshman season, and he was able to attain a redshirt.
--OG Sean Sheller, a sixth-year senior, suffered a broken forearm against Texas and is out for the rest of the season.