Football: Bruins fishing for good catch

You've probably seen college football highlights, specifically touchdowns, and wondered, "Why can't UCLA do that? Others make it look so simple."

Julio Jones' back-shoulder grabs, A.J. Green's leaping snags, Jeff Maehl's catch-and-runs -- they're all examples of recent, and common, occurrences that most likely found their way into a highlight reel last season.

But can you vividly remember one UCLA touchdown catch? Maybe Randall Carroll's 46-yarder at Arizona State? Or Ricky Marvray's score at Texas? Tight end Joseph Fauria's late, meaningless touchdown against USC?

Perhaps the countless drops were more memorable.

UCLA has potential to replace the bad memories with good ones -- all of its receivers and tight ends from a year ago are back. There's experience, namely with seniors Nelson Rosario and Taylor Embree. There are also building blocks in place, with the aforementioned Carroll (true junior) and Marvray (redshirt sophomore) waiting in the wings.

Embree led the way last year with 32 catches, but none were for touchdowns. Rosario had only one scoring catch. Carroll, Marvray and Fauria each had two. Christian Ramirez (graduated) and senior Josh Smith had one apiece to give the Bruins a whopping total of nine for the season.

Nine touchdown catches in 12 games is probably not going to get it done, let alone get the Bruins into a bowl game.

There were 26 players in college football who had at least 10 touchdowns by themselves. Green, the Georgia standout who many expect to be the first receiver taken in next month's NFL Draft, matched UCLA's total with nine. Oregon's Maehl had 12. Oklahoma State's Justin Blackmon (20) and Texas Tech's Lyle Leong (19) each doubled the Bruins' combined output.

Coach Rick Neuheisel has said he wants more balance in the offense, so the Bruins' aerial numbers should rise next season. But which, if any, receiver will have a breakthrough year?

Will the starting quarterback, whoever that is, have a go-to guy?

Note: This is the last of our five issues leading up to Tuesday's opener. Question 1: Will Brett Hundley threaten for starting gig? Question 2: How will the replacements fare? 3. Football primer: The defense; 4. Football primer: The offense.