Damien Thigpen looks for running room against Houston in a nonconference… (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles…)
UCLA had its first significant injury of the season, as F-back Damien Thigpen suffered a pulled hamstring Wednesday.
Thigpen was injured while running a deep pass route. Coach Rick Neuheisel was unsure how long he would be out, though it could be weeks.
The injury leaves Anthony Barr as the team's only F-back in the "pistol" offense. Neuheisel wasn't ready to shuffle players around to shore up the position just yet.
"We've got a lot of skilled athletes, so we'll figure out how to go about it," Neuheisel said. "Hopefully, we'll get some good news and Damien won't be gone long."
Thigpen suffered a broken collarbone last season and was slowed during spring practice by a hamstring injury.
Guard Casey Griffiths sat out practice because of a sore hamstring.
UCLA suffered through a rash of injuries last season, including those of quarterback Kevin Prince, linebacker Patrick Larimore, center Kai Maiava and defensive end Datone Jones.
Hardly a snap
Greg Capella's move from center to guard gives him a shot at starting.
"It takes a little getting used to, putting my hand back on the ground," Capella said. "I have to do a little more pulling and more one-on-one blocking. But I feel like this is my best chance to win a job since I came here."
But the move also demonstrated how thin the Bruins are behind Maiava. Freshman Jake Brendel, just in from Plano (Texas) East High, was Maiava's backup Wednesday.
A number of bad snaps in the pistol offense's mini-shotgun slowed the pace during practice.
"You can't play football that way," Neuheisel said. "We have to be able to complete a four-yard pass."
"Practice," Neuheisel said. "And maybe some more practice."
The sloppiness extended to the receivers.
Randall Carroll, Devin Lucien, Ricky Marvray and Taylor Embree all dropped passes, three coming on consecutive plays.
"As you get into camp, the concentration wanes, that's why we, as coaches, have to fight against it," Neuheisel said.
Once more with Love
Two years ago, Glenn Love battled Tony Dye for the strong safety job. Dye won. Last year, Love competed with Sean Westgate at strong-side linebacker. Westgate won.
With Westgate moving to weak-side linebacker, Love and Jordan Zumwalt are competing for the strong-side spot. This time Love intends a different outcome.
"Going from safety to linebacker, I didn't know what to do," Love said. "Now it's my fifth year and I learned the defense during spring ball. I'm ready to help the team."
UCLA basketball brought in more high-end recruits to football practice than the football team did Wednesday.
Las Vegas Bishop Gorman's Shabazz Muhammad, Decatur (Ga.) Southwest DeKalb's Shaq Goodwin and St. Anthony's Kyle Anderson all dropped by Spaulding Field.
On the football side, Pierce College's Gerald Bowman, one of the top community college safeties in the nation, was at practice.