UCLA looking for picture-perfect offense

LOS ANGELES -- A picture may be worth a thousand words, but it's also worth a few seconds on the football field.

At least that's what the UCLA Bruins coaching staff is hoping when they take the Rose Bowl field Saturday for their Pac-12 Conference opener against Oregon State.

UCLA will bring along those hieroglyphic-like picture placards to call in plays, a system popularized by Oregon and used by several other schools. It's an attempt to speed up the offensive play calling, something Oregon has mastered and UCLA is trying to emulate.

"We'll see how it works," coach Jim Mora said. "If it doesn't work the way we want it to work, we feel good not using it, but if it can help us speed up a little bit and help our communication then it's a good thing."

The cards signify various formations, personnel groups, plays, sequences of plays, snap counts and other elements of the offense. Each card consists of a random assortment of pictures culled together by a group of graduate assistant coaches. There is a banana, the South Park character Eric Cartman and various former UCLA players, to name a few.

"It's like a puzzle," Mora said. "It's funny, you look at those pictures and you say 'Where did you get those pictures and what do they mean?' But you get a group of graduate assistants in a room and they are a little punch drunk from spending 80 hours at work that week and it's 11 o'clock at night and some silly things come up."

Mora says he hopes it means an even more up-tempo offense. Instead of coaches having to verbally communicate the different elements of the offense they want to run, they can simply hold up the proper card and everyone can see what the coaches want, thereby shaving off a few seconds from each play.

"If it can help us with our substitutions and speed up our operation on offense then we're going to do it," Mora said. "There haven't been concerns, we just want to make it better so that's what we’re doing."