Trick plays are among UCLA’s most successful this season

UCLA's Eldridge Massington drops this long pass after beating ASU defensive back Chase Lucas deep in the second quarter Saturday, but he did pull off a 39-yard run on a reverse on the second play of the game.
(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

Trick question: What does UCLA offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch call the double reverses, flea-flickers and game-winning fake spike that the Bruins have unveiled this season?

They’re just plays to him, though they certainly have been tricky to defend.

UCLA went to one on the second play against Arizona State on Saturday when receiver Eldridge Massington ran 39 yards on a reverse that was set up in part by faking a flip for a double reverse.


The Bruins trotted out another reverse in the second quarter, receiver Christian Pabico gaining 30 yards after taking a pitch from Bolu Olorunfunmi.

Then came something even more inventive: quarterback Josh Rosen connected with receiver Jordan Lasley on a double pass for 15 yards.

The Bruins have connected on a high percentage of their trick plays, going back to the fake spike in the opener against Texas A&M that momentarily froze the defense, allowing Lasley to get the separation he needed to make a catch in the corner of the end zone.

“We’ve had some good ones,” Fisch said Tuesday, mentioning a flea-flicker to Lasley and a pass thrown by tight end Caleb Wilson.

Asked if he had a favorite, Fisch inquired whether the Bruins had scored on one. Reminded of the fake spike, Fisch said with a smile, “Oh, yeah. That was my favorite by far.”

Fisch said he has treated trick plays like any other on the call sheet going back to his time working for former Florida coach Steve Spurrier.

“It’s just another play that you’re trying to take advantage of a defense,” Fisch said. “And if you can get that opportunity to take advantage of a defense, [there’s] no reason not to.”

Coach Jim Mora said Fisch has shown a great feel for knowing when to call plays that can catch a defense out of position.

“You don’t just run it because it’s cute and it’s fun and the fans like it,” Mora said. “You run it because you’ve set it up the right way with something you’ve done in the past or you can maybe take advantage of something you’ve seen in the defense, and we’ve been pretty successful with them so far.”

Fisch acknowledged that the players don’t always share his nonchalance about the unorthodox plays.


“The guys might get a little bit more excited at times, you know, when there’s certain plays that they get to go do … rather than more of the generic stuff, I guess,” Fisch said. “But we’re just trying to figure out a way to move the ball.”

Injury updates

Defensive coordinator Tom Bradley said safety Jaleel Wadood practiced Tuesday after he sat out against Arizona State because of neck soreness.

Defensive end Jaelan Phillips, who missed the game because of a concussion, has resumed running and is considered day to day, Bradley said.

“He is improving each and every day and they’ll give us the nod, the doctors will let us know” when he can practice, Bradley said.

Wade embraces brace

Defensive end Rick Wade said the brace he wore on his recuperating knee was not limiting his mobility in games.

“At first it was a little weird to get used to,” said Wade, who made four tackles, including one for loss against Arizona State, “but it’s become part of my running motion now and I feel pretty fluid with it, so it’s not bothering me too much.”

Follow Ben Bolch on Twitter @latbbolch