Two seasons ago, then-sophomore quarterback Richard Brehaut was knocked out of UCLA’s game at Washington with a blow to the head.
With their other quarterback, then-redshirt sophomore Kevin Prince, already ruled out, the Bruins’ final option at signal caller was fellow sophomore Darius Bell.
Bell had a less-than-memorable debut under center, completing only one of three pass attempts with the completion being to the wrong team. His interception was returned for a touchdown that proved to be the final blow to the Bruins who lost 24-7.
Nowadays, he doesn’t line up behind center. Instead, he can be seen as a Y receiver, where he caught the first touchdown pass of his career Saturday. Early in the second quarter, Bell caught a perfectly placed pass from redshirt freshman quarterback Brett Hundley over his shoulder to put the Bruins up two scores.
“It’s my first (time) catching one. It’s a good feeling. It’s a little different playing quarterback – you get used to it after a while,” Bell said. “But being on the receiving end was a good feeling for me.”
Bell said that previously playing quarterback, where he would read defenses, has made the transition to receiver smooth, as running routes takes a similar philosophy.
But when asked whether he ever imagined himself catching touchdowns after being recruited as a quarterback, he said with a laugh, “Not in a million years.”
Holmes solves the case
Junior outside linebacker Jordan Zumwalt did not travel with the team as he was ruled out due to injuries sustained from a motorized scooter accident.
In his stead was redshirt senior Damien Holmes, who typically starts at inside linebacker.
Holmes was initially converted to outside linebacker after being a defensive end throughout his UCLA career, then shifted once again to the middle early this season.
“I played (defensive end) before, which is a similar view to outside linebacker,” Holmes said. “But wherever they put me, I’m going to do it to the best of my ability.”
And he certainly did play to a high level Saturday. Holmes had one of his best games in Bruin uniform, recording five tackles for loss and three sacks. The sacks pushed the Buffaloes back 11 yards and the tackles for loss pushed them back 13 yards.
After it was unable to pave way for the UCLA rushing offense against Oregon State, the Bruin offensive line returned its most tenured member Saturday in redshirt senior guard Jeff Baca.
With an offensive line starting three freshmen, Baca’s senior leadership helped the rushing offense gain 211 yards on the ground against Colorado.
“We have young guys on the offensive line so it’s a little bit hard to communicate what’s going on on the field to what (the coaches) see on the sideline, so I was just trying to help them with that and tell them what was going on,” Baca said.
“I feel like I bring a little calmness, a little confidence. They respect me, which is nice, and it’s humbling and I’m just excited to be back, I really am.”
On the flip side
One of UCLA’s most highly touted recruits from this past year’s class was defensive end Ellis McCarthy. In one of his very first collegiate plays, in the season opener against Rice, McCarthy recorded a sack.
Saturday, he was trying to prevent them.
McCarthy sported a No. 53 jersey against Colorado, making him eligible on both sides of the ball. And in the fourth quarter, he made use of his new number, appearing at right offensive guard.
“They just needed more guys and they thought I could help a lot. (Offensive line coach Adrian Klemm) called me after last week’s game and told me he really needed me,” McCarthy said.
McCarthy said he has three games of offensive line experience under his belt from his junior year in high school and is open to playing on both sides of the ball. He also stated that he’s an emergency option at guard and will continue working there.
UCLA offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone didn’t have a wordy review of McCarthy’s offensive ability, nor did he analyze the freshman’s technique. He was, however, impressed with McCarthy’s most glaring characteristic.
“I don’t know how he plays, I just know he’s big,” Mazzone said.