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UCLA REPORT

Clark Given Clearance to Compete by NCAA

September 19, 2003|Robyn Norwood | Times Staff Writer

Starting cornerback Matt Clark received clearance from the NCAA to play in the Oklahoma game after a review of his academic eligibility Thursday.

Clark's status wasn't learned until after the Bruins' early practice, but it was in time for him to board the plane for Oklahoma with the team. Had the decision been delayed further, he would have had to travel on his own if he was declared eligible.

Clark was held out of last week's game against Illinois after UCLA discovered he received an incomplete for a history class he took in the 2002 fall quarter, dropping his grade-point average below the minimum requirement of 1.8 for juniors.

Clark made up the work and received a grade that raised his GPA above the minimum.

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When receiver Tab Perry was declared academically ineligible before the season, sophomore Junior Taylor was expected to take his place in the lineup.

But Ryan Smith beat him out at flanker, and Taylor -- who announced his arrival in his first game as a freshman last season with a 49-yard touchdown off a reverse -- has caught only three passes for 13 yards.

Coach Karl Dorrell says he saw signs this week Taylor might be ready to make more of a contribution, saying Taylor was "a lot better."

"He's had a good week," Dorrell said. "We've tried to teach him ball-skill techniques. He's trying to improve."

Dorrell also hopes Taylor, who is 6 feet 2 with striking speed, might spark an offense that is in dire need of big plays to create some confidence. "He's got a lot of big-play potential," Dorrell said.

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As if facing the nation's No. 1 team wasn't intimidating enough, here are some other numbers for the Bruins to try to fathom.

Oklahoma is 17-1 in regular-season nonconference games under Coach Bob Stoops.

The Sooners last regular-season loss to a team outside the Big 12 was a 34-30 loss to Notre Dame in 1999.

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