UCLA’s Josh Smith is receptive to carrying the ball


Wide receiver Josh Smith showed once again that UCLA has playmakers.

Smith hauled in a 62-yard reception on the Bruins’ first touchdown drive against Oregon State on Saturday. He finished with two receptions for 76 yards.

“I’m the most comfortable guy with the ball in my hands,” Smith said. “I try to show the coaches that in practice. I try to let them know I have even more explosiveness in games.”

Yet those were Smith’s first two receptions of the season, an example of how the Bruins’ “pistol” offense often holsters weapons.


UCLA had 49 rushing attempts and 12 passes in the 27-19 victory over Oregon State.

Coach Rick Neuheisel said that it is the “identity we’ve chosen.” But avoiding an identity crisis against Stanford this week will probably require getting the ball to dangerous players.

In four games, Smith, Randall Carroll and Shaquelle Evans, the Bruins’ fastest receivers, have eight receptions.

The Bruins went deep to Carroll twice against Oregon State, both incomplete passes, and had the big gain to Smith. But mostly UCLA was content to hammer away between the tackles.

“Each game has its own blueprint,” Neuheisel said.

Neuheisel said the passing game “comes down to yards per attempt and the ability to throw effectively on third down.”

UCLA is averaging 8.8 yards per attempted pass, third in the Pacific 12 Conference. But the Bruins are also eighth in scoring offense, and Neuheisel said that this week against Stanford, “We’re going to have to score a lot of points.”

The Bruins appear to have receivers to do that, but there appeared to be a reluctance to allow quarterback Richard Brehaut to tap those resources Saturday. He threw only 11 passes, completing seven. He had four attempts in the second half.

“Would I like to throw more? Absolutely,” Neuheisel said. But “everything in a game plan is based on situations.”


Against Arizona last season, Brehaut connected with Carroll for a 68-yard touchdown and Smith for a 49-yard touchdown.

Smith’s speed and elusiveness has been on display on kickoff returns. He zigzagged his way to an 85-yard return against Texas this season, only to have the play nullified by a penalty.

“We look at tape, and I hear, ‘Josh is playing really fast.’ ” Smith said. “Well, duh. That’s what I was brought in here to do. I need the ball and a tiny window of space to make something happen.”

Smith has been effective in a run-oriented offense before. As a senior at Moorpark High School, he caught only 21 passes, but averaged 22.7 yards per catch and scored 10 touchdowns.

“We have certain guys that, if you get the ball in their hands, something good is going to happen,” Smith said.

Quick hits


F-back Damien Thigpen, out since August because of an injured hamstring, will probably redshirt this season, Neuheisel said. … UCLA will play Washington State at 7:30 p.m. in the Rose Bowl on Oct. 8.