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Quarterback Duel Seen as a Strength

November 10, 2002|Rob Fernas | Times Staff Writer

TUCSON — Controversy or contentment?

UCLA isn't about to advance the theory that there's a debate on who should be the Bruin quarterback.

But freshmen Drew Olson and Matt Moore showed Saturday night in a 37-7 victory over Arizona that neither is ready to concede the job.

"Both quarterbacks did a nice job," Coach Bob Toledo said. "The media is going to say, 'They've got a quarterback controversy.' We've got a nice situation. I've got depth. I'm not worried about a controversy."

Olson hoped to solidify his standing as the No. 1 quarterback, and his performance certainly didn't hurt that objective. He completed seven of 12 passes for 111 yards and his first touchdown as a Bruin. An efficient Olson directed UCLA to five scores -- three touchdowns and two field goals -- in his six series.

Moore, though, proved equally capable coming off the bench. He completed six of eight passes for 90 yards and directed the Bruins to two scores in the second quarter.

Afterward, Moore said he was pleased with his performance but was unconcerned about whether it was enough to unseat Olson as the starter.

"We'll see how next week goes," Moore said. "I'm still open to everything -- backup, starting, whatever."

Olson believes that he'll continue to be the starter and hinted that he would feel more comfortable taking a majority of the snaps.

Of splitting time, Olson said, "It's a little tricky. It gets you out of your rhythm sometimes if you're on a roll, but it really doesn't matter. As long as each of us goes out and performs, we'll do fine."

Toledo had promised Moore he would play in the first half after keeping him on the sideline last week while Olson went the distance in a 34-24 victory over Washington.

Moore played in four series in the first half, when the former Newhall Hart High standout displayed poise and passing accuracy.

"I just went out and did what I'm supposed to do," Moore said.

Olson and Moore had near-identical results in the first half. Olson led the Bruins to a touchdown and a field goal on their first two possessions for a 10-0 lead before a three-and-out series.

Moore replaced Olson for the next series and engineered drives resulting in a touchdown and a field goal that increased UCLA's lead to 20-7 midway through the second quarter.

With the Bruins facing third and 42 from their 41 after being penalized on three successive plays, Moore found wide receiver Tab Perry streaking down the left sideline for a 40-yard pass play, setting up a 19-yard scoring run by Tyler Ebell on the next play on fourth and two. "That was a heck of a pass into two-deep coverage," Toledo said.

Olson directed UCLA to two touchdowns, including a 33-yard catch-and-run by wide receiver Craig Bragg, and a field goal on the team's first three possessions of the second half before giving way to Moore in a meaningless fourth quarter.

In the locker room, Olson said he had no indication if he and Moore would continue to share playing time. "That's up to Coach [Toledo]," Olson said. "It's out of our hands. We have no clue."


Defensive end Dave Ball had a sack early in the second quarter, extending his streak to eight games in which he has had at least one. He has 10 1/2 this season and is closing in on the UCLA record of 13 held by Carnell Lake. The Bruins had six sacks against Arizona, giving them 16 in the last three games.... Running back Manuel White played for the first time since straining his left hamstring Oct. 5 against Oregon State. White, who sat out four games, rushed for 27 yards in eight carries, including a one-yard touchdown.... Bragg, who had three catches for 64 yards and a touchdown, set a UCLA sophomore record for season receiving yards with 738, breaking the mark of 728 set by J.J. Stokes in 1992.... Senior quarterback Jason Johnson passed for 133 yards to set Arizona's season record with 2,566 yards, breaking the mark of 2,520 yards set by Tom Tunnicliffe in 1982.

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