The UCLA football team practiced in shorts and shoulder pads for the first time Wednesday and things didn't go exactly as planned as problems with the shotgun snap marred the session.
Backup center Jake Brendel, a true freshman, was responsible for many of the gaffes but starter Kai Maiava also had issues connecting with the quarterbacks, stopping several offensive plays before they began.
"Far too many center-quarterback exchanges on the ground and you can’t play football that way so that’s going to be a huge order of business as we get going," coach Rick Neuheisel said. "It’s the first day of pads and live contact and all that, so that certainly probably added to it, but we’ve got to be sharper with the football and handle our business in that regard so we have to really pay a lot of attention to it."
Shotgun snaps are an integral part of the Bruins' offense as the quarterback lines up four yards deep on every play in the Pistol formation, but when the centers are sending the snaps high, wide and low on a regular basis, it tends to slow things down quite a bit.
Brendel's presence was supposed to shore up the depth lost at the position when Ryan Taylor graduated. Taylor started every game last year Maiava was injured and he rarely missed a play all season. Greg Capella, Taylor's backup last season, also had problems with shotgun snaps in practice and in his limited game time and has moved to guard this season.
Maiava has been solid the first two days in camp, but Wednesday was a bad day for both centers, who had mishaps on close to a dozen snaps.
"Certainly in playing some new centers, that led to what we’re doing," Neuheisel said. "But we’ve got to do a better job. There’s no reason and no excuse for not being able to handle the ball. It’s a four-yard pass."
Asked how he planned to get that part of the offense shored up, Neuheisel hinted at sending the centers out to the practice field until all hours to get things down.
"Practice, practice practice," Neuheisel said. "And then maybe some more practice. The good thing about this time of year is there is no 20-hour rule. There is no limit to how many times we can practice that so we will take advantage of the opportunities."