With starting center Kai Maiava suspended from Saturday's home opener for a violation of team rules, sophomore Greg Capella will slide over from his position at guard and take over at center.
But that's not as easy as it sounds in UCLA's offense because UCLA runs out of a shotgun formation the majority of the time, meaning snaps are a crucial part of the scheme. And Capella, who was the backup center last season, struggled at times with shotgun snaps -- sometimes sending them high and sometimes sending them low.
He had a pretty clean practice Tuesday, but some of the bad snaps returned Wednesday, a couple of times causing coaches to pull Capella out of the lineup. He stayed after practice to work on his snaps and said he's not concerned.
"I worked hard on it all summer," Capella said. "I had a little bit of problems today, but I think I worked them out after practice with coach [Jim] Mastro."
Capella said his issues arise when he rushes his snaps because he's trying to get to his block quicker. He said he just needs to slow down a bit.
"I don't follow through," he said. "But I’m going to work hard before and after practice with the snaps so I’ll be fine."
Quarterback Richard Brehaut says there is more to playing center than just snapping the ball. The center is the quarterback of the offensive line and makes all of the line calls, which might be just as important as the snap. But Brehaut isn't worried about having a different center.
"Greg is more than adequate at that stuff," Brehaut said. "He’s done a great job of stepping up this year and realizing that now is his time to really step into a position on this team where he is a significant player. Greg has played center before and I don’t see any falloff in our offense just because we don’t have Kai."
UCLA coaches moved Capella to guard this season and he has played well enough to earn the starting job. True freshman Jake Brendel has been getting most of the action as the backup center since training camp began, but the coaches apparently aren't ready to use someone with so little experience.
"Capella will be great," coach Rick Neuheisel said. "He’s worked hard and he’ll have a great game."
And as far as the poor snaps that plagued him last season and re-appeared Wednseday?
"He’s better," Neuheisel said. "It’s always something we can improve on, but I like what I’m seeing."