UCLA’s Rick Neuheisel looking for balance on offense
UCLA Coach Rick Neuheisel has become lopsided offensively before, and corrected the situation.
The Bruins threw only 11 passes in a 27-19 victory over Oregon State on Saturday. They ran the ball 49 times and tried only four passes after halftime.
Neuheisel has proclaimed the Bruins a running team. His offenses heavily tilted in the other direction in the past.
His Washington team threw 612 passes in 2002 with quarterback Cody Pickett, but the Huskies lost three consecutive midseason games.
“We had gotten so one-dimensional as a football team,” Neuheisel said. “It was obvious we had to get back to playing sound football, with field position, fundamentals, ball control, all those things that are the hidden statistics.”
A more balanced Washington team won its last three regular-season games.
Neuheisel said that experience “gave me respect for the importance of being balanced.”
The Bruins had a one-dimensional look Saturday, but Neuheisel said it is different with the running game.
“When you’re leaning heavily on the run, it becomes obvious that you need to throw by the situation,” Neuheisel said. “If you’re able to continue to stay on the field with the run, you can control games.”
Still, Neuheisel said, “we have to anticipate that teams are going to be good enough to stop us if we become one-dimensional. That’s why we have worked hard in our play-action game so we can create some big plays.”
Quarterback Richard Brehaut was surprised to learn he had thrown only 11 passes against Oregon State.
“It felt like more,” he said, but he was satisfied. “I managed the offense and made the right calls. That’s what it takes for a quarterback to run the ‘pistol’ offense.
“Between getting a win and throwing a bunch of passes, I’ll take the win and 11 pass attempts.”
Andrew Abbott appears set to start at cornerback for the Bruins, as Sheldon Price missed a third day of practice because of a knee injury.
Abbott started three games at cornerback last season. He has been used as the nickel back this season.
“It’s a little different playing outside than playing nickel. You have more responsibilities on every play,” Abbott said. “I have been a cornerback my whole life. This will be just another day.”
Neuheisel said all the Bruins’ injured players were “game-time decisions.”
Besides Price, F-back Anthony Barr (knee), safety Dalton Hilliard (shoulder) and safety Alex Mascarenas (concussion) seem unlikely to play. None were dressed for practice Thursday.
Linebacker Glenn Love didn’t practice for a second consecutive day because of a “little bit of a hamstring issue,” Neuheisel said.
Cornerback Jamie Graham (knee) appears ready to play.
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