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Bruins take chances with their defense

Randall Carroll enjoys switch from offense in victory over Arizona State.

November 06, 2011|By Chris Foster
  • Bruins quarterback Kevin Prince narrowly escapes Arizona's defense during Saturday's game at the Rose Bowl.
Bruins quarterback Kevin Prince narrowly escapes Arizona's defense… (Mandatory Gary A. Vasquez…)

One week UCLA goes with a 212-pound defensive end. The next the Bruins put a wide receiver at defensive back.

Call it daring, call it desperate, it has worked.

"That is born out of necessity," Coach Rick Neuheisel said. "No. 1, we had attrition because of injuries. No. 2, we weren't having success."

This weekend's surprise was Randall Carroll at cornerback, a position he hasn't played since his senior year at Los Angeles Cathedral High.

Carroll, a junior wide receiver, was used in passing situations in the 29-28 victory over Arizona State, usually when UCLA employed four cornerbacks against the Sun Devils' spread offense. He was also was sent on a handful of blitzes, using his speed to get into quarterback Brock Osweiler's face.

"That was the best part," Carroll said. "You don't have any other job, just get to the quarterback."

The Bruins, who put on a clinic in defensive disaster in a 48-12 loss to Arizona on Oct. 20, have put together back-to-back victories over California and Arizona using a few unusual personnel shifts.

"We had to find ways to confuse the quarterback and give them different looks," Neuheisel said.

Against California, linebacker Aramide Olaniyan — all 212 pounds of him — played defensive end, using his speed to slip past offensive linemen in the Bruins' 31-14 victory. He had a key tackle for a loss on a third down in that game.

"We're just trying different things," defensive coordinator Joe Tresey said.

Coaches were toying with the idea of moving Carroll to defense for three weeks. He was slipping down the depth chart at receiver, with three catches for 34 yards. Carroll's speed was an asset against an Arizona State team bulging with fast receivers and running backs.

"He plays like that, we'll take him," Tresey said.

Carroll, who had one tackle, is hoping the move becomes permanent.

"It felt good to be on that side of the ball again," Carroll said. "You just have to stop the offense. You get to fly around like your head's cut off. It's fun."

Prince leads

UCLA has won three of its last four games since quarterback Kevin Prince returned to the lineup. He completed 11 of 17 passes for 196 yards and ran for 61 Saturday.

"There were only two or three times when I thought he made the wrong decision, and I'm a harsh grader," Neuheisel said.

Neuheisel said that when Prince has been inaccurate, "his feet have betrayed him. He is not organized and the ball doesn't fly." On Saturday, the coach said, "There were a couple times when his footwork was really beautiful. We're seeing maturation, hopefully."

Richard Brehaut, who suffered a broken bone in his left leg, returns to practice Tuesday. He was the Bruins' starter at the time of his injury.

When Brehaut is ready, Neuheisel said, "We'll determine what the scenario is and see what is best for the football team. Both are capable playing winning football."

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