Injuries may put Bruins in a tight spot

September 05, 2008|Chris Foster | Times Staff Writer

The first issue about UCLA's paper-thin depth has been presented to Bruins coaches, who are trying to plug the hole created by the injury to tight end Logan Paulsen.

Paulsen, a 6-foot-6, 260-pound senior, suffered a fractured right foot while making a catch on the Bruins' first offensive series against Tennessee. He is expected to be out at least eight weeks, and might sit out the rest of the season.

It leaves the Bruins crunching numbers at tight end. Ryan Moya, who plays the Bruins F back -- a receiver/blocker who is moved around -- and true freshman Cory Harkey will now try to fill that void.

"Out of Harkey and Ryan, we got to get one guy," offensive coordinator Norm Chow said. "Ryan is a little better receiver, and Harkey is a little better at the point of attack."

Moya had seven receptions for 65 yards and one touchdown in the 27-24 overtime victory over Tennessee. Yet he was less of a physical presence lining up at tight end, as opposed to working out of the backfield.

"Ryan had a good game, at least the pass receiving part of it," Coach Rick Neuheisel said. As for Moya's blocking, Neuheisel said, "He needs to work on it. In his defense, he was playing the F position, our moving tight end. It's no excuse, you have to know all your assignments. But he didn't get much practice time at tight end going into the game."

Playing Moya at tight end takes away from the depth at the F back spot, though Chow said running backs Trevor Theriot and Chane Moline can play that spot.

Harkey's drawback is inexperience. He made his collegiate debut Monday and is now being asked to carry a heavier load.

"My first play out there, I was walking on air," Harkey said. "I was supposed to go block somebody downfield. I didn't get him. But I ran as hard as I could and I got somebody.

"I know there is a lot more being expected of me now. But if the coaches didn't have confidence in me, I wouldn't be out there on the field."

Harkey, 6 feet 4, 240 pounds, was a skilled receiver at Chino Hills High. He had 30 receptions for 473 yards and three touchdowns as a senior. He did not have a reception against Tennessee.

"I think Cory Harkey will be terrific, but he is young," Neuheisel said. "We have to grow him up. That's why we were lucky to have this bye week [before facing Brigham Young]."

More holes to fill

Kahlil Bell's availability will not be known until next week, as the senior tailback is out because of a high ankle sprain.

His absence has caused a chain reaction. Raymond Carter and Moline worked with the first team, and freshman Aundre Dean has received more time. Entering the mix Thursday was freshman Johnathan Franklin, who was working with the second team.

"Franklin was impressive today," Neuheisel said. "We're going to wait and see if Derrick Coleman can get back as well."

Coleman has been out after arthroscopic surgery on his knee three weeks ago.


A few Bruins players were removed from scrimmage situations Thursday, as Neuheisel was unhappy with their level of intensity.

"We've got to make sure we're into the toughness part of this game," Neuheisel said. "It looked to me like there were a couple culprits guilty of turning it down, not really wanting the contact."

Relentlessly optimistic

Neuheisel assured kicker Kai Forbath that he would be named the special teams player of the week in the Pacific 10 Conference this week.

Of course, he promised that days before the Bruins played Tennessee.

Forbath kicked two field goals, including the game-winner in overtime. And, yes, he was named the special teams player of the week.

"Yeah, but Coach also said I would kick three field goals," Forbath joked. "So he's not perfect."

Odds and split ends

The Bruins will not practice Saturday and Sunday, but UCLA coaches do not have the weekend off. They will be scattered throughout the West watching high school games for recruiting purposes. . . . Ricky Marvray, a senior wide receiver from Corona Centennial High, has committed to play for UCLA.


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