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Donahue Calls Audible a Little Late for UCLA: Green Needed the Ball

September 15, 1987|TRACY DODDS | Times Staff Writer

UCLA Coach Terry Donahue said Monday that Gaston Green probably should have carried the ball more than 19 times in the Bruins' 42-33 loss at Nebraska last Saturday, but he added a couple of qualifiers.

He also listed five other areas that contributed to the Bruins' demise.

"Any time you criticize, critique and analyze, you tend to get stuck on one focal point, and I know that a lot of people think Gaston Green should have run the ball more," Donahue said. "I agree. And he would have, if the third quarter hadn't gotten away from us like that. All of a sudden it's 28-10 and we're throwing the ball and trying to catch up. . . .

"Everybody, with benefit of hindsight, knows exactly what we should have done. . . . Of course, if we had continued to run the ball, run Gaston, and we lost, 34-33, everybody would be saying why didn't you throw the ball and try to win."

After listing the pluses (the team played hard for 60 minutes, shut down Nebraska's running game, scored 33 points, got some good individual performances, showed great potential), Donahue listed the minuses.

--The kicking game was listed "first and foremost" as a key to the defeat. Besides not kicking off well, the Bruins had a punt blocked and botched a field goal on a bad snap. Donahue said that he would look at sophomore punter Kirk Maggio, and freshmen kickers Dominic Sandifer and James Petrotta as possible kickoff men. He also said he might consider an open tryout for any UCLA student.

--Fumbles (4) were too plentiful. "The ball was all over the football field," Donahue said.

--The secondary kept getting burned on play-action passes, leaving receivers wide open. "Why, I can't tell you," Donahue said. "We were not overcommitted in the secondary to helping stop the run as a lot of people have said. We didn't have nine players on the line, saying OK, go ahead and pass. We got beat on two passes when we were in two-deep coverage."

--Big plays, usually plentiful in the Bruin arsenal, were nowhere to be found.

--The Bruins were affected by the Nebraska crowd when momentum was swinging in the third period.

--And last, but not least, Donahue said: "I didn't think that, as head coach, I did a good job of getting the ball into the hands of our best player, Gaston Green. He didn't do much with it when he did have it (46 yards, averaging 2.4 yards per carry). . . . But he should touch the ball more like 25 times a game, not 19."

For all those faults, the Bruins did manage to stay with Nebraska for a half, and after rallying to lose to the nation's No. 2-ranked team by nine points, only dropped in the Associated Press poll from No. 3 to No. 10.

Donahue termed the Bruins more frustrated than demoralized, which was how they felt after the last few Nebraska games and last season's Oklahoma game.

"A year ago we were looking like a hospital ward and just scratching our heads wondering what happened," Donahue said. "Now we can look at the films and see that we can play with a top team and, in fact, know that we can play even better."

Bruin Notes

UCLA held Nebraska to 117 yards rushing, which in the last 10 years is second only to Oklahoma's effort of holding the Cornhuskers to 101 in their game last year. . . . UCLA's 33 points was its highest total ever against Nebraska. . . . UCLA Coach Terry Donahue said the reason UCLA did not suffer any major injuries, unlike other years, was directly related to the time that the players have spent in the weight room and the physical nature of the Bruins' spring and fall training camps. The most serious injury was defensive tackle Jeff Glasser's sprained ankle.

Inside linebacker Ken Norton had 9 tackles in the game at Nebraska, including two for loss of yardage. . . . Sophomore tight end Charles Arbuckle made 6 catches for 92 yards for the Bruins Saturday in his first start. . . . Sophomore Alfredo Velasco has scored 16 points in his first two games as the Bruin kicker, making all three field goal attempts and all seven extra point kicks. . . . Making the most of Gaston Green's statistics: Instead of stressing that Green's string of 100-yards-plus games had come to an end, UCLA is noting that after two games, Green has a total of 181 yards, ahead of the pace he set last year when he had just 171 yards after two games. He then missed the third and carried only 6 times for 5 yards in the fourth because of a toe injury, yet still finished the season with 1,405 yards.

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