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Open Date Could Hurt Passing Game

COLLEGE FOOTBALL / DAILY REPORT : UCLA

September 20, 1997|JIM HODGES

With an open date today, there has been concern at UCLA that the passing game, which has been so successful in the first three games, should be kept sound.

"I know from experience, bowl games and byes are when you lose the timing on the passing game if you don't keep throwing the ball," offensive coordinator Al Borges said. "When you've got a bye, I think your passing game suffers most because of timing, so we've focused more on throwing and trying to keep it tightened up."

The week spent without the necessity of preparing for Arizona, UCLA's next opponent, has allowed the Bruins to work more on their long-passing game. It has improved, with quarterback Cade McNown's arm getting stronger, and with an increased emphasis on getting yardage in larger chunks.

"We're trying to get better at it," Borges said. "And we've hit a couple, and I think we've had three or four pass interferences where we've thrown the ball and I think we've had a guy behind their guy and he's interfered.

"We're throwing the ball deep because we're focusing on throwing the ball deep. I think last year, and this is as much my fault as anybody's, we didn't work on it enough."

The longest UCLA pass completed this season was a 50-yarder from McNown to Jim McElroy, in the season opener at Washington State.

McNown also has a 50-yard gain on a screen pass that Skip Hicks turned into a touchdown against Tennessee.

"[Hicks'] pass receiving has shown marked improvement," Borges said of the running back, who had eight drops, most on the team, in 1996 but has had none in the first three games. He has 11 catches for 187 yards and two touchdowns.

*

Off, but tuned in: A quick survey of Bruin players as to how they will spend their weekend off revealed most will be watching the Tennessee-Florida and Nebraska-Washington games.

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)

NEXT FOR UCLA

WHO: Arizona

WHERE: Rose Bowl

WHEN: Sept. 27, 12:30 p.m.

TV: Fox Sp. West

RADIO: XTRA (1150)

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