A shift in UCLA's philosophy on offense, with the Bruins testing a no-huddle, quick-read attack this spring, has its roots in Oregon.
The Ducks' deception-heavy offensive scheme has made them one of the top rushing teams in the nation. That success led the Bruins' coaching staff to work on an offense patterned in part after Nevada's "pistol," which is similar to Oregon's scheme.
"When we look at statistics and see who the best running teams are, it's not hard thing to figure out that the quarterback is involved," UCLA Coach Rick Neuheisel said.
Oregon was sixth nationally, averaging 231 yards rushing a game last season. Quarterback Jeremiah Masoli had 668 yards rushing while showing he could outrun almost anything, except the long arm of the law (Masoli pled guilty to burglary charges in March).
The Bruins had a slight improvement in their running game last season, but fell short of Neuheisel's promise to "run the ball or die trying." UCLA has averaged 99.3 yards rushing in 25 games since Neuheisel took over two seasons ago.
Bruins quarterback Kevin Prince has shown he has a sleight-of-hand knack, though not quite in Masoli's category.
"It's the same thing we ran at my high school," Prince said. "Nevada does it. Oregon does it."
And the Oregon model is what Neuheisel is shooting for.
"It's been Oregon's hook in this league, they have used it much to their advantage," Neuheisel said. "We haven't decide how far to go with it. It's in the exploratory stages."
First chance, last chance
Tackle Brett Downey had a goal when he walked on at UCLA two years ago.
"I wanted to earn a scholarship," he said.
Step one was accomplished, as Downey was put on scholarship last season. Now he's getting more ambitious.
"Now the goal is to earn a starting spot," Downey said.
Downey is getting a long look at left tackle, splitting time with redshirt freshman Nik Abele. Senior Micah Kia, who is still recovering from knee surgery, will be in the mix when training camp opens in August.
Downey — from Altaville (Calif.) Harte High — is 6 feet 7, 298 pounds, up 55 pounds from when he arrived in Westwood.
"Guys who are 6-7 with big frames are hard to find," offensive line coach Bob Palcic said. "We were hoping he would develop and he has worked his tail off to get to this point."
Elsewhere on the line, Stanley Hasiak is looking to get a second-chance opportunity. A highly recruited guard in the 2009 class, he has been suspended twice after numerous on-field fights during practice and more than a few incidents where he lashed out verbally at people off the field.
Hasiak was reinstated before spring practice.
"I'm taking advantage this," Hasiak said. "I spent the off-season working out, getting ready for this opportunity they have given me."
The Bruins will be in full pads for Saturday's practice for the first time this spring, though they will not scrimmage. … Tight end Joseph Fauria (groin), center Kai Maiava (shoulder) and wide receiver Taylor Embree (concussion) did not practice Friday. Maiava had an X-ray Friday that was negative. … Top recruits at Friday's practice were defensive tackle Christian Heyward (San Diego Point Loma), defensive end Jalen Grimble (Las Vegas Bishop Gorman) and wide receiver Junior Pomee (Moreno Valley Rancho Verde).