The on-again, off-again relationship between UCLA tight end Joseph Fauria and his quarterbacks once more steamed up last Saturday in the Bruins’ 31-6 loss at Utah.
The towering target had four catches for 64 yards against the Utes, his biggest production since a six-catch, 110-yard, one-touchdown Week 1 performance.
Fauria has snagged three touchdowns since then but hasn’t been a focal point in the offense, whether because of the opposing defensive gameplan or simply not factoring into UCLA’s run-first offense.
“The best I can do is when my name is called, do the most with it,” said Fauria, who has 22 receptions for 307 yards and four scores on the year. “Whether it’s stiff-arming somebody, jumping over somebody, catching it over somebody – I’ll do whatever I can to show the coaches I want the ball, I need the ball.”
At 6-foot-8, the Crespi star is an easy spot for his former high school teammate Kevin Prince.
But Fauria had been used sparingly in the passing game during the Bruins’ two previous games before Utah, catching three total passes for 28 total yards in wins over Cal and Arizona State, when UCLA turned to its running game.
“If they put one guy on him, you can still throw him the ball and he’ll still catch it,” Prince said. “But sometimes they’ll put two guys over there and take him away. Sometimes the progression of a play doesn’t call for Joe to get the ball. In backyard football, sure, give Joe the ball. But when you’re looking at coverages, looking at defenses and how the play fits, Joe doesn’t always come as the primary receiver.”
Fauria, who transferred from Notre Dame before his sophomore season, has come to realize that all of his blocking in the Pistol offense might just pay off in the long run. Doesn’t mean he doesn’t want the ball every play, but he concedes that might not be all it’s cracked up to be.
“Usually when you have the pro days and the combines and the workouts for scouts, a lot of it is route-running, catching – but most of your film is you on the field with your pads and helmet on, seeing what you can do against a 280-pound guy,” Fauria said. “It’s definitely helping me; if the naysayers out there still think I can’t block, they need to watch more games. That’s what I’m doing right now. I’m doing pretty well, and I’ve been told I’m doing pretty well from the coaches.”
Offensive line takes a mulligan
After playing two of its best games of the season in the consecutive wins over the Bears and Sun Devils and then stumbling against the Utes in snowy weather, the UCLA offensive line is vowing to rebound against the Buffaloes.
“Whatever weather we’re in, we’ve still got to play football,” UCLA senior center Kai Maiava said. “It was a lot of different things. We were making mental mistakes. It was just dumb. We can’t make them again – 1st-and-15 is way harder to convert than 1st-and-10.”
Bumps and Bruises
Sophomore safety Alex Mascarenas (head) was back in street clothes on Thursday after practicing without the non-contact jersey on Wednesday and he is listed as out in the team’s pre-game injury report. … UCLA junior quarterback Richard Brehaut (leg), senior running back Derrick Coleman (hip) and senior safety Tony Dye (neck) were all listed as probable.