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College Football Daily Report / UCLA

Thomas Comes Back in a Big Way

September 20, 1999|SCOTT HOWARD-COOPER

Many happy returns.

Keith Brown had his Saturday night with the average of 4.2 yards per carry, best among the tailbacks. Ryan Roques had his with the 38-yard kickoff return to open the game. Ryan Nece had his with 10 tackles and a broken-up pass.

But no Bruin who missed the opening two games of the season because of the handicapped-parking violations played a bigger role against Fresno State than Robert Thomas, who started and starred at the same time, and for the first time.

After averaging about 15 snaps a game as a true freshman in 1998, and then missing the beginning of this season, he moved right into the opening lineup at middle linebacker, went the whole way and finished with a game-high 14 tackles. Not only a career best by six, it was the most for any Bruin in nearly three years, since Brian Wilmer had 15 against Arizona on Nov. 16, 1996.

"I have had some experience, so I knew what to expect," Thomas said. "I didn't know what to expect as a starter, though. But after a couple minutes, I was feeling it."

*

Chris Griffith kicked two field goals Saturday, making him five for five, and converted three extra points, improving to 10 for 10, but he is not perfect. Trying to turn while riding his bicycle over gravel proved that.

The resulting crash, Friday afternoon on campus as he headed to a team meeting, left Griffith with minor scratches on his neck, an eight-inch raspberry down the outside of his right (kicking) leg below the knee, and a concussion.

*

There is still no definitive word on the Bruins' plan at quarterback Saturday at Stanford in the Pacific 10 Conference opener, but for now they are listing starter Cory Paus as questionable because of bruised ribs and a strained neck.

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