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UCLA REPORT

For Dorrell, Starting Olson Is Not a Snap Judgment

October 14, 2003|Mike DiGiovanna | Times Staff Writer

After UCLA quarterback Matt Moore suffered a severe bone bruise in his left leg in the first quarter of the season opener against Colorado on Sept. 6, Coach Karl Dorrell said that, "in general, I don't think a guy loses his job because of injury." Five weeks later, it appears Moore has lost his job because of injury.

Dorrell -- for another week, at least -- defused a potential quarterback controversy Monday when he said Drew Olson will start and take the majority of snaps Saturday against California, even though Moore showed in two series against Arizona on Saturday that he is sound.

Dorrell hopes to get Moore some more playing time, but he ruled out the possibility of Moore splitting time equally with Olson, who has completed 49 of 74 passes (66%) for 705 yards and two touchdowns in the Bruins' last three games, victories over San Diego State, Washington and Arizona.

"He's progressively doing things better and better," Dorrell said of Olson. "Does he still make a mistake or two? Yes. But he does more good things, and his confidence is growing."

Moore completed four of eight passes for 41 yards against Arizona, but he had one pass intercepted and lost a fumble when he was hit by a blitzing safety before he could hand the ball to running back Tyler Ebell.

"We need two quarterbacks, regardless of who's starting, so they're trying to get Matt back to where he was," Olson said. "Both of us are capable of running this offense, so there's no reason we can't be successful with both of us playing."

Olson speaks to the media every Monday, before Dorrell's weekly news conference, and the first question is always the same: Are you starting this week?

"I got this job because Matt went down with an injury, and the coach said you don't lose your job because of an injury, so it's not surprising that it's still an issue," Olson said. "It doesn't really bother me. I don't really think about it. It might go on the whole season. Either way, it won't affect the way Matt or I play."

It also won't affect the friendship between the two sophomores, Olson said.

"We laugh about it," Olson said. "One of us is going to play, one isn't. We know that. We're both dealing with it."

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Cornerback Matt Ware, who sprained his left ankle late in the third quarter Saturday, was put through several running tests Sunday and performed well enough for Dorrell to believe the junior will be able to play against Cal.

But strong safety Jarrad Page, who did not make the trip to Arizona because of a sprained right shoulder, is recovering at such a slow pace that Dorrell said Page will probably sit out a second consecutive game. Senior Kevin Brant, who started against Arizona, would take Page's place again.

"He's still really sore," Dorrell said of Page. "You've got to be able to tackle at that position, and if you can't tackle, it's hard to play. He's a little better than he was last week, but he's doubtful [for Saturday's game]."

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If Ware is slowed by injury or is unable to play, he would be replaced by Marcus Cassel and Keith Short....Former Bruin coach Terry Donahue will serve as UCLA's honorary captain and will take part in the pregame coin flip Saturday....Bruin linebacker Brandon Chillar leads the Pacific 10 Conference with an average of 11.5 tackles.

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