The UCLA Bruins threw another block party Saturday, this time at least showing enough consideration to do it in their own neighborhood.
As opposed to the last game, when, as the visiting team, they stuffed Houston punter Joey Saavedra deep in Cougar territory. This time, when Washington State came to the Rose Bowl, they blocked two more punts, giving the Bruins three in two games.
"If you average one a game, that's unheard of," said Nick Aliotti, UCLA's defensive coordinator. "So we feel great."
Especially considering the eventual worth of the blocks--two of them led to Bruin touchdowns, one by Tod McBride at Houston and one by DuVal Hicks on Washington State's Kareem Anderson that Jason Stephens recovered at the Cougar six. Ali Abdul Azziz later blocked another, coming in from the right side and giving UCLA the ball on the 12, but that great field position was wasted.
"It's very exciting," Aliotti said. "What we saw on the films was that [Anderson] takes a long time to punt the ball. We showed like we were going to play safe, and then we came in. It worked out."
On first and goal from the six, near the end of UCLA's third possession of the day, Cade McNown rolled to his left, looking for a receiver. They were all covered, so he took off.
So did Coach Bob Toledo's heart.
McNown headed for the goal line, but Cougar defenders were waiting. At the last moment, he went vertical an instant before getting hit by linebacker Steve Gleason. McNown went flying, clearing the end zone and then landing awkwardly but apparently safely on his shoulders and upper back.
"Yeah, I got a little nervous," Toledo said. "But he got an A in gymnastics, so he's a good cartwheel guy."
Said McNown: "I just thought I'd go up."
Along with Toledo's blood pressure.
"I know, I know," McNown said. "But when you're out there running and rolling, you just kind of read what they're giving you and sometimes they're going to play the pass. They dropped everybody off and I felt I had a clear lane--it was an overpass, but it was a lane to the end zone."
Kickoff for next Saturday's showdown at Arizona, uncertain until this weekend while television officials considered their options, has been set for 7:15. . . . Injured receiver Freddie Mitchell watched Saturday's game from the sideline, while some teammates did their best to get him on the field. Tailback Jermaine Lewis, for one, wrote a "3" with black ink on his taped wrist. . . . Lamont Thompson did double duty for Washington State, playing his usual spot at free safety and also getting some action at receiver. He had seven tackles, four unassisted, and two receptions worth 34 yards. . . . UCLA held a moment of silence before the game to honor the memory of Tom Bradley, the former Los Angeles mayor and Bruin track standout, and at halftime for Florence Griffith Joyner. It came on the same day she was inducted in the school's Hall of Fame.
Times staff writer J.A. Adande contributed to this story.