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College Football | UCLA REPORT

Bruins Happily Pour It On in Practice

November 13, 2001|Steve Henson

Pain, pain go away....

Can rain wash away three consecutive losses? For at least one day it did for the Bruins, who whooped and hollered through a short practice in a downpour.

"It's fun, it breaks up the monotony," tight end Bryan Fletcher said. "It gave us something else to think about besides the loss to Oregon."

A loss not easily forgotten.

UCLA fell to the Ducks, 21-20, when a last-second 50-yard field-goal attempt failed. The Bruins dropped only three spots in the Associated Press rankings, from No. 17 to No. 20, but their spirits plunged.

Practice Monday was uplifting. The players sloshed around in the rain and mud like kids playing a game.

Which, of course, they are.

"It rains everywhere else in the country, it's about time it rains here," said an exuberant Cory Paus, UCLA's starting quarterback, who grew up in Illinois.

Another reason the Bruins were doing a decent job of shaking off the loss is the prospect of playing USC. They are looking forward to the traditional bonfire on campus and the week-long buzz about the rivalry.

"Every year it gets more emotional," senior linebacker Robert Thomas said. "As a senior, we want to go out beating SC. It's a big game. Having been around, it gets bigger every year."

*

Safety Jason Stephens has missed two games because of a foot injury and was not expected to play this week.

He has different plans.

"I'm playing, take it to the bank," he said. "The cold weather makes it harder to plant and cut, but I'm going to practice [today]. I'm not missing SC week."

Stephens, a senior, played sparingly against the Trojans the last two years, both Bruin losses.

However, as a freshman in 1998, he had a key role in UCLA's 34-17 victory, recovering two fumbles, forcing a fumble and making his first career interception.

"That was a huge game and I want another one like it," he said.

Ben Emanuel, a redshirt freshman, has played well in Stephens' absence, intercepting two passes against Washington State and making five tackles against Oregon.

*

Coaches Bob Toledo and Pete Carroll of USC have a common thread--the University of the Pacific.

"The cradle of coaching," Toledo joked.

Carroll is a Pacific graduate and Toledo was coach at the Stockton school from 1979-82.

"I've met Pete, but we've never been close," Toledo said. "We know the same friends from Pacific. We aren't bosom buddies, but I have the utmost respect for him."

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