Wide receiver Ricky Marvray is among the UCLA players suspended for Saturday's… (Gary Friedman / Los Angeles…)
UCLA has shown significant improvement in at least one area this week — the scout teams.
Five of the six players suspended for their part in a brawl against Arizona on Oct. 20 were put to work helping the Bruins get ready for California on Saturday.
Receivers Taylor Embree, Shaquelle Evans and Ricky Marvray were particularly useful, as the Bears have a quality group of receivers, including sophomore Keenan Allen.
Allen averages 129.4 receiving yards per game, tops in the nation. He has 60 receptions for 906 yards.
"It's bad for the team that they're out, but it is good for us," cornerback Andrew Abbott said. "We actually see the speed we'll see in the game."
The Bruins not only have to contend with Allen, but also Marvin Jones, the Bears' other quality receiver. Embree played Jones, while Allen was played by Evans on Wednesday.
"It's what I can contribute to the team this week," Embree said. "I think we did a good job getting the guys ready. We really put juice into the scout team."
Embree also said, "It was a chance to work on my craft. Since I wasn't working on the game plan, I could try a few new things."
Randall Carroll, a wide receiver who also was suspended, played cornerback on the scout team defense. Cassius Marsh, who is suspended for two games, was at defensive tackle on the scout team.
Keen on Keenan
The 6-foot-3, 205-pound Allen tends to make coaches gush.
UCLA's Rick Neuheisel: "We've played against a lot of good receivers, but maybe not one like Keenan. He's big, fast and brings a lot of things to the table."
California's Jeff Tedford: "He has great body control for a guy his size. He can adjust to any ball there is."
How UCLA's defense, ranked 88th nationally against the pass, handles Allen may depend on health.
Abbott appears completely healed from a shoulder injury he suffered against Arizona. Cornerback Sheldon Price still appears gimpy, having missed three of the last four games with a knee injury.
With Albert Cid suspended for the first half Saturday and Chris Ward unlikely to play because of a knee injury, Wade Yandall is expected to make his first career start at guard Saturday.
"Wade has made good improvement throughout the fall," offensive line coach Bob Palcic said. "He's practiced well and takes his job serious."
If needed, Jeff Baca is capable of playing guard. Brett Downey would play Baca's tackle spot.
Cid will be eligible to play the second half.
F-back Anthony Barr, who had knee surgery after the Oregon State game, returned to practice Tuesday. He was added to the group trying to plug the hole at wide receiver.
"We'll see how many plays we can get out of him," Neuheisel said. "He gives us more flexibility."
As for Barr's health, Neuheisel said, "We wish they were all 100%. Sometimes during the course of a football season, you don't have that luxury. Certainly the situation we find ourselves in offensively this week, we don't have that luxury. If he's able to go, and he's chomping at the bit, it's not like it's unsafe."