The position change Drew Bennett requested nearly a month ago and the Bruins tinkered with in recent weeks finally went through Tuesday, when Coach Bob Toledo announced that the former No. 1 quarterback has been moved to receiver.
"We're going to try to go that route from now on," Toledo said.
Bennett had been the starting quarterback the first two games while platooning with Cory Paus for playing time, but then lost out to Paus for the permanent job. Toledo turned down Bennett's offer at the time to switch to receiver because he wanted the Bruins to have a dependable backup, a decision that looked great when Paus was hurt in Game 3 and Bennett came off the bench to complete 13 of 24 passes for 176 yards and two touchdowns and lead UCLA to a 35-21 victory over Fresno State.
Bennett started the next week, at Stanford, because of Paus' chest injury, but was erratic. He also strained his right elbow on the final play, which made it difficult for him to throw in practice, a problem that meant the Bruins could not use him in passing situations last week at Arizona State. When Bennett was sent in for one play, to run the option, he aggravated the arm to the point that he would have had trouble throwing again this week.
That's when Toledo made his decision. Bennett will move and sophomore Scott McEwan, who has two end-of-game appearances and one throw, will become the new backup to redshirt freshman Paus.
"It's pretty permanent," Bennett said. "I'm not wearing the red jersey [for quarterbacks in practice] anymore, I've been staying after practice to work on my routes and I haven't learned any of the game plans for quarterback. It's serious for the next few weeks at least.
"Either way, I'll take it. Like I said before, I'll play either spot. I would be content as the second-string quarterback, I would be content with playing receiver. It's just kind of a strange feeling."
Bennett completed 49 of 86 passes in the five games for 641 yards, four touchdowns and three interceptions. He has a better completion percentage than Paus--57% to 48.9%--but Paus has better arm strength and accuracy and coaches were frustrated by Bennett's inability to throw downfield.