Scrimmage: O is a Success, With *

The new Pistol offense makes a showing better than any UCLA offense at a scrimmage in recent memory, but the Saturday session at Drake Stadium is marred by a season-ending injury. Two freshmen also look like they'll be big contributors on offense...

It was perhaps the best offensive performance at a UCLA scrimmage in recent memory, but it was marred by a devastating injury.

Starting center Kai Maiava fractured his ankle, will undergo surgery and is out for the season.

When we spoke with guard Ryan Taylor after the scrimmage, he said the coaches indicated to him he'd move back to center to replace Maiava.

It could be that Eddie Williams, when he was returns from his concussion, will move to left guard and senior Darius Savage will plug in at right guard.

There is the possibility of Jeff Baca filling the left guard role when he returns from his stress reaction in his foot and gets his academic questions with the NCAA resolved.

After the Kansas State game, too, Mike Harris will return from his one-game suspension and could go back to right tackle, and Micah Kia could then also slide over to a guard spot.

If you got over the Maiava injury, the scrimmage was promising. UCLA's offense for many years has looked stagnant and vanilla in these scrimmages, but not in this one.

And that was even with starting quarterback Kevin Prince looking on from the sideline with a strained oblique.

In his absense, Richard Brehaut stepped up and easily had his best showing as a Bruin. Brehaut went 11 for 16, for 186 yards, three touchdowns and one interception. He threw effectively on almost every ball, and looked in command of the Pistol offense.

Brehaut ran the #1 offense on six series, ending three with touchdown passes, two on missed field goals and one on a fumble after a nice throw and reception.

His first drive culminated with a touchdown when he rolled, threw on the run and found Randall Carroll behind his defender in the endzone. Brehaut's second touchdown pass was to Taylor Embree on a 19-yard out. His third TD pass was a nice fade to Nelson Rosario in the corner after a 50-yard drive.

Brehaut clearly was effective because of his own improvement, but he also had the best pass protection we've seen in a UCLA scrimmage in a while.

Now, you can never completely attribute that to good blocking in a scrimmage like this, because it very well could be poor pressure on the quarterback. But it's clear if given time Brehaut has enough command of the offense to move the football.

Perhaps his best throw was on the second play from scrimmage, when he hit Rosario streaking up the sideline in stride, and Rosario made a one-handed catch for a 40-yard gain. In one sequence toward the end of the session, Brehaut ran for an eight-yard gain (even though the defense was not allowed to hit or tackle the quarterbacks), threw a nice little flair to Derrick Coleman for a gain of eight, found Rosario at the two-yard line on an out for a 20-yard gain, and then finished the drive with the touchdown fade to Rosario.

Darius Bell took most of the snaps with the #2 offense, and for the most part struggled, finishing 4 for 8 for 28 yards, with one touchdown and one interception. His TD throw was to freshman F-back Anthony Barr on a short out in the endzone.

Nick Crissman worked with the third-string, and went 3-for-6 for 26 yards. He did, surprisingly, gain a good amount of yards with his feet, picking up 20 on an option where he kept the ball, with Rick Neuheisel screaming, "Pitch it! Pitch it!"

Among the running backs, freshman Malcolm Jones had the most productive day, gaining 58 yards on 11 carries. He had two nice runs, one for 18 yards and one for 17, where he found seams in the defense and then plowed through to get into the defensive secondary. Jones clearly is a star in the making, with his ability to continue to gain yards after initial contact. He did, though, hobble off toward the end of the scrimmage with what looked like a sprained ankle.

Starting tailback Derrick Coleman got only 2 carries for 3 yards, and Johnathan Franklin had 16 yards on 7 carries. Jones got the bulk of the work, with the coaches wanting to see what the freshman could do.

While, again, it's difficult to take too much from this because the offense's effectiveness could be more a result of the defense's ineffectiveness,the scrimmage definitely made a case that this year's Bruins will have a better chance to gain yards on the ground.

Rosario led the Bruin receivers with four catches on the day for 80 yards, including that two-yard scoring reception.

In terms of receiving production, it looks pretty clear that UCLA is going to exploit the F-back position as a receiver. Christian Ramirez had 3 receptions for 52 yards, and even had one drop; Anthony Barr had 3 catches for 27 yards and that one touchdown, and Morrell Presley caught two balls for 12 yards. Ramirez looked good, catching a ball on what looked like a crossing pattern and showing acceleration to get it outside and up the sideline.

Barr was very impressive, especially for a true freshman. In one sequence he actually ran the ball for a 17-yard gain, caught a pass for a 9-yard gain, absolutely crushed defensive lineman Wesley Flowers with a block that sprung Jones for a good gain, and then caught his touchdown pass.

The two freshmen – Jones and Barr – were a very exciting, young combo, and an indication of a very promising Bruin offensive future.

Overall, the Pistol is a dynamic scheme. As opposed to the pro-set West Coast offense, which is almost completely predicable, UCLA's version of the Pistol is quite unpredictable, and uses deception and misdirection. The ball, too, also seems to come out of the quarterback much quicker, since the shorter shotgun snap gets the ball to the QB quite a bit sooner.

Probably the biggest offensive drawback of the night were the poor snaps by Greg Capella, who was stepping in for the injured Maiava. Once he settled down, they improved, but a few snaps came back to the quarterback on the ground or so high in the air the QB had to hop to bring it down.

The defense definitely had some moments in the scrimmage, even though some of UCLA's biggest defensive stars didn't get many reps. On the sideline, in fact, Rahim Moore kept yelling, "Coach Neu! Coach Neu! Can I get a rep?"

Akeem Ayers was a monster when he was in the game, blowing up running plays and putting pressure on the quarterback. On the DL, Nate Chandler flushed out the quarterback a couple of times and Damien Holmes got a tackle for a loss. Freshman Seali'I Epenesa got a couple of tackles, and a huge cheer went up from the crowd, since many of his relatives are in town from Hawaii. Epenesa also got a sack. Freshman Owamagbe Odighizuwa is an impressive athlete, and at times was hard to contain on the edge.

Safety Tony Dye had a good scrimmage, getting a couple of nice tackles, and making a nice interception, even though Barr stripped him of the ball after the pick and fell on it.

Andrew Abbott stripped tight end Cory Harkey of a ball after a nice catch, and Sheldon Price fell on it.

Dalton Hilliard might have made the defensive play of the night, with a diving interception.

It was tough to draw any conclusions on special teams. There was no tackling, so it was hard to determine just how many of the touchdowns on punt and kick-off returns would have been legitimate. Josh Smith returned both a punt and a kick-off return for a touchdown, and the kick-off perhaps might have actually been legitimate, while Damien Thigpen and Taylor Embree had TDs on kick-off and punt returns.

Scrimmage Stats


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