UCLA held its fall scrimmage Saturday night at Drake Stadium, but the real Bruins did not show up.
Sure, quarterbacks Kevin Prince and Richard Brehaut got their fair share of action, but most of the first-team players were limited as the Bruins tried to stay healthy and keep their plays and personnel packages off the Internet and away from the possible peering eyes of opponents.
"We have a deal where we have a scrimmage and we have a game in two weeks and you don’t know who is in the stands," offensive coordinator Mike Johnson said. "There are certain things we’ve been doing in practice from a tempo standpoint and a shot standpoint and a different gimmick standpoint that we didn’t do today."
That meant the starting offensive line sat on the bench as spectators for most of the scrimmage, getting in for only 22 plays in the 90-play scrimmage. Running back Johnathan Franklin, a 1,100-yard rusher last season, carried the ball for five yards on the second play of the scrimmage and did not get another carry.
Defensive end Datone Jones, the Bruins top defensive lineman, had only 13 plays before he hit the sidelines for the night.
"There’s a certain set of guys that need to get a little and not much else when guys are on the ground," coach Rick Neuheisel said of limiting some of his top veterans.
Jones said he didn't mind. The defense has been applying a great deal of pressure with blitzes from all over the field during practices, but mostly played a plain vanilla style on Saturday because in the era of YouTube and Facebook and Twitter, it's best not to get too deep into the playbook.
"At an open scrimmage you can’t really pull out everything you have," Jones said.
On one drive, the offense ran the ball eight consecutive times. This coming from a team with a coaching staff that has vowed to improve a passing attack after finishing 116th in the nation in passing last season and has worked hard at doing so the first two week of training camp.
"We wanted to come in and we wanted to create an identity running the ball," Johnson said. "We wanted to emphasize that."
Or, rather, they wanted to emphasize that they wouldn't be showing off too much of the passing game they have been developing.