YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections


In the End, Bruins Didn't Need Brawn

Defense: UCLA practices centered on stopping Texas' running game, but Longhorns came out passing.


AUSTIN, Texas — UCLA had spent all week working on a defense to play against Texas.

Then the Bruins didn't use it.

Actually, they didn't need it in beating the No. 11 Longhorns, 66-3, on Saturday.

The scheme was called "heavy," and it involved moving free safety Glenn Thompkins to the sideline and bringing on an extra linebacker to deal with Texas running back Ricky Williams and the steers the Longhorns call offensive linemen.

The idea was that because Texas did not have injured quarterback James Brown available--he spent the day in uniform, but on the sideline signaling in plays--that it probably would try to run the ball down the Bruin throats.

And then Richard Walton faded back to pass on the game's first play.

"I was surprised," defensive coordinator Rocky Long said. "We were on our heels a little bit because we were all geared up on the run, and they came out and spread us out and completed two or three passes in a row. I think we made a sack or something, which got us back on even keel, and from there on we played fairly well."

Walton threw to Derek Lewis for 17 yards and to Wane McGarrity for eight before handing to Williams for gains of 11 and 12 yards.

But then Larry Atkins sacked Walton for a loss of nine yards on a safety blitz. And a 15-yard penalty moved the ball farther back. A series that had included a first-and-10 play on the UCLA 32 ended on fourth and 38 from the Texas 40.

And "heavy" was rendered to the archives.

"We didn't run it once," said linebacker Danjuan Magee. "We just came ready to play. We didn't need it. We thought we were going to need it. We thought their line was huge, which they were. We thought it was going to be a game like Michigan [a 38-9 loss last season], you know, where we were undersized in the [defensive] line, so we had a little special thing for them.

"But we got after them and kept coming, and Larry Atkins played a huge game early."

Atkins not only had the first of UCLA's seven sacks, he also intercepted a Walton pass and returned it 38 yards to the Texas one-yard line to set up the touchdown that gave UCLA a 24-0 lead; and he intercepted a Marty Cherry pass on the Bruin 25 late in the second quarter to help them retain a 38-0 lead at halftime.

The statistics are overwhelming. UCLA had four interceptions and four fumbles, and held Texas to 53 rushing yards in 40 carries, the aggregate including 21 tackles for losses totaling 78 yards.

The Bruins got Damian Allen's 40-yard interception return for their final touchdown, and they set up the offense to begin scoring drives on the Texas 43, 1, 25, 9 and 11.

"We had interceptions, we had fumbles, we had fumble recoveries, we had interceptions for touchdowns," Magee said. "The offense had good field position all day long. Everything was in full cycle, and everything was running on all cylinders."

The defense started early, after struggling in the opening half of the season's first two games.

UCLA had held Tennessee to two field goals in the second half a week ago and has given up nine points in its last six quarters.

Pressure on the Bruin stoppers has eased, not that they are stopping people.

"It's better," said Long, "and I appreciate the way that Coach [Bob] Toledo handled our early struggles. There are a lot of head coaches who would have wanted you to junk what you were doing and change everything, and he hung in there with us and told us just to get better at what we were doing and the kids have responded with hard work and have gotten better."

The work ethic has showed.

"Our whole thing is pressure," Toledo said, speaking of the essence of Long's defense. "When you pressure people, you make big plays and sometimes you give up big plays. When you give up big plays, people sometimes will say, 'Why are you running that defense?' But that defense allows you to make a lot of big plays. . . . And it gives our kids a chance to cut loose and play hard."

That it did.

"We played all four quarters, we got after them, we got them down, we didn't let them up," Magee said. "We rubbed their face in it and just kept on."

Light work for the heavy defense.

Los Angeles Times Articles