UCLA defensive tackle Nate Chandler, shown sacking Cal quarterback Kevin… (Luis Sinco / Los Angeles…)
Safety Tony Dye was almost giddy following UCLA's first scrimmage this spring.
"This best scrimmage we have had here, ever," Dye said. "This is the most fun I have ever had on this field."
There was encouraging play by the offense and defense, but what made the Bruins different from last season was their defensive front.
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UCLA's defensive push was more a pushover last season, as the Bruins allowed 200 or more yards rushing in eight games. There was a healthier look to the defensive front that went beyond the return of defensive end Datone Jones from a broken foot.
The Bruins had 18 tackles for a loss, which includes nine sacks, during the scrimmage.
"Our goal is seven [tackles for a loss] per game," defensive coordinator Joe Tresey said. "We want to be an attacking defense."
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The biggest and loudest moment came when defensive tackle Nate Chandler buried running back Damien Thigpen, forcing a fumble that defensive tackle Donovan Carter returned for a touchdown.
"We have to be the strong point, come out and hit teams in the mouth," Jones said.
Brehaut looks sharper
Quarterback Richard Brehaut, tuning up for the quarterback competition to come this August, completed his first six passes. He finished 11 of 21 for 146 yards. He threw an 18-yard touchdown pass to Rick Marvray, who outfought linebacker Glenn Love for the ball.
"That's just Richard Brehaut trusting me to get that ball," Marvray said. "I thought we established that we're not going to be taking three-and-outs anymore."
Brehaut's performance went beyond numbers. On one pass play, he went through two reads before improvising and flipping pass on the run to Malcolm Jones for a 13-yard gain.
It brought praise from an often harsh critic: Coach Rick Neuheisel.
"The thing I loved was his eyes were where they were supposed to be," Neuheisel said. "He had pocket sense, got out and found his check-down" receiver.
But Neuheisel said Brehaut "waned a little at the end."
"He started doing things backwards because he thought he was getting pressure," Neuheisel said. "That is where we have to have complete understanding and mastery of the protection systems."
Freshman quarterback Brett Hundley labored at times throwing the ball. But he also had a 50-yard touchdown run and another run of 33 yards.
Sheller, McDonald out
Tackle Sean Sheller sat out with a broken right hand and said it will take a month to heal. He will be able to do individual workouts and could practice fully, if the doctor approves.
Connor Bradford and Brett Downey shared Sheller's spot during the scrimmage.
The Bruins were also without safety Tevin McDonald, who is expected to sit out a week because of a bruised shin bone.
Quarterback Kevin Prince started participating in seven-on-seven drills Saturday. Neuheisel said Prince would get the majority of the reps. He got eight of the 19, the most among quarterbacks.