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Off week could help UCLA's battered lineup

Several players, including Jerry Johnson, Simon Goines, Greg Capella, Darius Bell and Johnathan Franklin, are nursing injuries and can use the time to regroup before the Oct. 27 game at Arizona State.

October 15, 2012|By Chris Foster, Los Angeles Times
  • UCLA tight end Joseph Fauria flips through the air after attempting to dive over Utah defensive back Eric Rowe.
UCLA tight end Joseph Fauria flips through the air after attempting to dive… (Alex Gallardo / Associated…)

UCLA Coach Jim Mora was short and to the point Sunday, saying the Bruins' off week "comes at the right time for us. It gives our guys a chance to catch our breath a little bit."

Those in need of the breather include:

--Receiver Jerry Johnson, who missed Saturday's 21-14 victory over Utah because of sore ribs, Mora said.

--Tackle Simon Goines, who left the game because of an injured left knee.

--Guard Greg Capella, out for three weeks because of a concussion.

--Receiver Darius Bell, who is out because of a broken rib and is a longest shot to return for the Oct. 27 game at Arizona State.

--Running back Johnathan Franklin, who has been playing despite hand and calf injuries.

UCLA is a thin powder blue line, and attrition has started to take its toll.

With Bell and Johnson out, and Devin Lucien gone for the season because of a broken collarbone, the Bruins were left with true freshmen Kenneth Walker, Jordan Payton and Devin Fuller learning on the job.

Defensive coordinators notice things such as that.

Junior Shaquelle Evans had four receptions for 91 yards in the first half against Utah. He was shut out in the second half. Senior Joseph Fauria had two receptions for 35 yards in the first half. He had one catch for six yards in the second half.

Mora said that the freshman receivers "need to run routes, need to function in the offense. … All of a sudden we became youthful in the receiving group."

The offensive line was youthful to begin with. Now it has holes.

Goines left the game in the second half. Mora said, "I think he'll be OK." It caused some shifting along the line, and was a reminder of what the Bruins are missing with Capella out.

Jeff Baca moved to Goines' tackle spot. Capella probably would have been in at guard, but he has not been seen since suffering a concussion, his second in three months. Guard Alberto Cid plugged the hole on the line.

"This week will allow some of our guys to heal up," Mora said.

Franklin is in that group, though his injuries have not forced him out of the lineup. He was limited against California and he appeared a half-beat slower against Utah.

"I'm fine," Franklin said. "At this point in the season, everyone is hurting a little bit."

Not-so-tiny dancer

Fauria did not have spotlight moments Saturday, as he has had in the past with five of his 16 receptions going for touchdowns before the Utah game.

But Fauria was nimble and effective on third down Saturday. He had a 12-yard catch in the first quarter where he sidestepped one defender and hurdled another to get the first down at the Utah 30-yard line.

"I almost got over that guy," Fauria said. "He just barely clipped me."

The play nudged along a drive that ended with quarterback Brett Hundley's 12-yard touchdown run.

Fauria later had a 23-yard reception on a third-and-16 for a first down on the UCLA 46 late in the second quarter. The Bruins didn't score, but it helped in the battle for field position in a game that was lacking in offense.

Utah got the ball back on its own four-yard line with two minutes left and UCLA took a 14-7 lead into halftime.

Offensive upsides

The Bruins were held to a season-low 354 yards and Hundley threw for only 183 yards, the first time this season he didn't top 200.

Offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone saw good things.

"What I'm proud about is there were two areas we were working on, third down and red zone running," Mazzone said. "I thought we did a nice job at both."

The Bruins converted on 10 of 17 third downs, three on a first-quarter touchdown drive and three on a third-quarter touchdown drive.

As for red zone running, Franklin gained four yards on a fourth-and-one play in the third quarter. He slithered for six yards on the next play, then broke a tackle and scored on a three-yard run to close the drive.

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