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UCLA REPORT

An Antitheft Device for the Offense

September 25, 2003|Mike DiGiovanna | Times Staff Writer

If you look to the UCLA sideline at the Rose Bowl on Saturday night and notice as many as three players or coaches signaling in formations and plays to the huddle against San Diego State, do not be alarmed.

Though quarterbacks Drew Olson and Matt Moore said Tuesday that the mistake-prone UCLA offense has been plagued at times this season by miscommunication between the sideline and the huddle, the implementation of a multiple signal-calling plan will actually be an attempt to confuse the Aztecs, not the Bruins.

"There seems to be this great emphasis on trying to steal and pick off signals from the sideline, so we're experimenting this week with having the quarterbacks signal in parts of the play call," UCLA offensive coordinator Steve Axman said. "We'll have three people doing it, so [the opponent doesn't] know who's actually" giving the play.

Axman said he has heard of schools that film opposing signal-callers on the sideline, though he did not identify San Diego State as one of those schools. Still, the Bruins are taking steps this week to eliminate that possibility.

"There are schools that are well-known for having certain coaches who are good at deciphering the signals," Axman said. "We want to make sure that's not a disadvantage to us, so we're going to have multiple people sending in the signals."

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The UCLA defense received a scare during Wednesday's practice when cornerback Matt Clark went into a pile and another player fell on his left knee. Clark hobbled to the training room and was scheduled to be examined by a team physician Wednesday night, but he didn't seem concerned by the injury.

"It's a little stiff, but I don't think it's too serious," Clark said. "I should be able to play Saturday."

The Bruins received some encouraging news on the injury front Wednesday when Moore practiced in pads for the first time since suffering a severe bone bruise in his leg in the first quarter of the season-opening loss to Colorado.

Moore, who has been dropping back and throwing for several days now, won't suit up for Saturday night's game, but Coach Karl Dorrell said he's hoping the quarterback will be available the following week against Washington.

Defensive lineman Asi Faoa, whose sprained left ankle was wrapped in a brace Tuesday, practiced Wednesday and is expected to play Saturday, and tight end Marcedes Lewis (left shoulder sprain), who was held out of some contact drills Wednesday, is also expected to play.

Defensive end Mat Ball, who turned an ankle in the Oklahoma game Saturday, was limited in practice Tuesday and Wednesday but is expected to play against San Diego State, but reserve linebacker Tim Warfield (right ankle sprain) is not expected to play.

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