UCLA's offense spent a good chunk of Saturday's scrimmage working in the red zone, a place where demons lurked last season.
"So close yet so far" often summed up the Bruins' performance near the end zone last season, when they had more field goals than touchdowns after driving inside an opponent's 20-yard line.
"It is so frustrating to be that close," quarterback Ben Olson said. "You see the ball sitting on the two-yard line and everybody thinks, 'It should be no problem to get those two dumb yards.' But it is a lot harder than it looks."
Their performance near the goal line last season helped kicker Justin Medlock become an All-American. They had 19 touchdowns and 20 field goals after getting inside the 20, something that was partly attributed to conservative play calling.
Saturday's scrimmage was a chance to test new philosophies under first-year offensive coordinator Jay Norvell, with extensive work from the 20-yard line.
But questions about what new offensive plans the Bruins have when they get near the promised land brought only tight-lipped responses.
"We have some stuff," said quarterback Patrick Cowan.
What kind of stuff?
"Good stuff," Cowan said. "Some of the good stuff."
Asked what "stuff" has been installed, Coach Karl Dorrell said, "We haven't put anything in at this time," then paused and added, "It's not something we want to disclose right now."
On Saturday the Bruins had as many touchdowns (two) as field goals in 10 red-zone series.
Olson completed four of seven passes for 18 yards in the red zone, including an 18-yard touchdown pass to tailback Kahlil Bell and a three-yard touchdown to tight end Logan Paulsen. Cowan completed one of three passes for seven yards and no touchdowns in the red zone.
In the competition for the quarterback job, Olson completed four of nine passes for 28 yards and two touchdowns during the scrimmage, and Cowan was two for eight for 40 yards, including a 33-yard touchdown pass to Jamil Turner.
Kai Forbath, the Bruins' only kicker on scholarship, made field goals from 35 and 37 yards. He also missed on a 27-yard try.
Receiver Dominique Johnson returned to practice after missing most of Thursday's workout because of a migraine. Defensive tackle Jess Ward missed practice while attending his uncle's funeral. Receiver Jeremy McGee, absent last week while attending to what Dorrell called family business, is expected to return this week.