UCLA players got an aperitif to hold them until Saturday, a 40-play scrimmage Tuesday that for some Bruins was a first taste of college football at full speed.
"When you're in high school, it's the best in the neighborhood," freshman quarterback Brett Hundley said. "When you get to college, it's the best of the best. When you get to the NFL, it's the best in the world."
Hundley took a dip in the college pool for the first time in the controlled scrimmage. He completed four of eight passes for 36 yards and also showed nimble feet.
Richard Brehaut had it a little rougher, though he was going against the first-team defense. Brehaut was one for six for nine yards and had one pass intercepted.
But Coach Rick Neuheisel saw improvement in an area that has caused him concern. Neuheisel has repeatedly expressed frustration with what he calls "predetermined reads," where Brehaut locks on to a receiver.
"In terms of read progression today, there was only one blast from the past," Neuheisel said.
That pass was intercepted by Alex Mascarenas and "put an arrow through my heart," Neuheisel said.
Brehaut said he has "worked the hell out my footwork" to improve in that area.
"I don't see ghosts anymore," Brehaut said. "I make sure what I'm seeing is actually what is happening."
In third-down situational work, Brehaut's first-team offense was 0 for 5, though he had one pass tipped and another dropped. Hundley's second-team unit was three for five on third downs.
The Bruins will install red-zone schemes Thursday and have a much more involved scrimmage Saturday. Tuesday was a dry run.
"The more we do this, the more resumes we have on guys," Neuheisel said.
Besides the interception, Mascarenas also scooped up an Anthony Barr fumble and returned it for a touchdown, making the final score: Defense 6, Offense 0.
The top hitters were safety Dietrich Riley, who leveled Barr, and tackle Cassius Marsh, who slammed running back Jordon James to the turf.
Defensive end Derrick Bryant was ill and missed practice. . . . Safety Tevin McDonald sat out the end of practice after suffering what Neuheisel called a minor shin injury. . . . A decision on whether quarterback Kevin Prince (knee surgery) will be able to increase his workload this spring will be made Thursday.