Backs, tight ends hope to get into the flow
Total offense is the plan for UCLA this season.
That desire has been evident through the first two days of training camp, as running backs and tight ends are more involved with the passing game than they were last season.
“It’s tough to cover everybody,” offensive coordinator Norm Chow said. “Teams do a nice job of covering receivers, so you got to get the ball to your backs. We need to force teams to cover 53 1/3 yards on every play.”
The passing game has been a sideline-to-sideline show thus far, with a large cast, something that seemed missing last season.
Bruins tight ends caught only 15 passes in 2007 and had only 63 receptions the last two seasons. Running backs caught 25 passes in 2007.
“There are more route combinations that make the back the primary receiver,” tailback Kahlil Bell said. “I think we do have a lot of talented people in the backfield as receivers. Any chance we get to touch the ball, I’m all for it.”
That idea is being uploaded into the decision-making by quarterbacks.
“Coach Chow is emphasizing, ‘If nothing is there, just give it to your back,’ ” said Bell, who had 13 receptions for 93 yards last season. “We’ll try to make something happen.”
That could play out well for tight end Logan Paulsen, who had only 12 receptions for 144 yards in 2007. Coach Rick Neuheisel is certainly expecting a lot, saying, “I think he will have a 40-50-60-catch season. He is going to be a guy who plays on Sundays.”
Paulsen had 27 receptions for 331 yards as a sophomore in 2006.
“I remember when Marcedes Lewis was here, he had 58 receptions,” Paulsen said. “That would be great.
“I definitely think Coach is trying to spread the ball around a little more and utilizing everybody. If you got five guys catching passes, the other team has to worry about everybody.”
Jumping the gun
The Bruins had difficulty with snap counts Wednesday, with offensive linemen jumping offside on numerous occasions. That included three false starts by starting tackle Micah Kia.
“We put in ‘going on two’ in the snap count, which probably cost us a lot reps today,” Neuheisel said. “We couldn’t handle it. We jumped offside way too many times. We’ll start figuring out ‘reminders’ if it continues to happen.”
Neuheisel continued to be impressed with the incoming freshmen, particularly running backs Aundre Dean, Johnathan Franklin and Milton Knox.
“They all have electric legs,” Neuheisel said. “It’s fun to watch.”
Neuheisel said quarterback Ben Olson’s left foot was a little sore. Olson broke a bone in that foot in spring practice.
“We’ll see how it is tomorrow morning,” Neuheisel said. “It’s going to be natural to have some pain, some discomfort. More important to me is he’s really started to grasp this offense. I feel like he has some tools out there to work with.”
Guard Scott Glicksberg left practice shortly after it began because he was ill, Neuheisel said.