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UCLA NOTES

Bruin Passing Game Needs a Running Start

September 27, 2003|Mike DiGiovanna | Times Staff Writer

UCLA has no plans to scrap or overhaul its West Coast offense, but the Bruins probably will add a few wrinkles to the playbook tonight, hoping to maximize the talents of receivers Craig Bragg and Junior Taylor.

Some of UCLA's biggest offensive plays last season were made when Bragg and Taylor caught short passes and turned them into long gains, but the pair has had little opportunity to run after catching in the first three games this season.

"It's been frustrating, because that's what I kind of need, to get the ball in my hands with an opportunity to make something happen," Taylor said. "I talked to the coaches about it, and that's coming, but what we need to do right now is to get the offense in sync. Once we do that, we can put in some special plays."

UCLA's passing attack so far has consisted mostly of quick out patterns and bombs, but Taylor and Bragg hope to make more catches in the middle of the field with some room to work.

"Anything that gives me the ball in space would be good," Taylor said. "If it's a reverse, a short pass, a swinging gate ... anything that gives you the opportunity to make something happen."

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San Diego State quarterback Matt Dlugolecki, a sophomore from Santa Margarita High, has put up some good numbers in relief of injured starter Adam Hall, having completed 72 of 125 passes for 700 yards and four touchdowns, but most of those yards have been gained against inferior opponents.

Though the Aztecs did give Ohio State a scare before losing, 16-13, on Sept. 6, and Dlugolecki had a decent game against the Buckeyes, completing 23 of 39 passes for 189 yards and a touchdown, Coach Tom Craft is a little apprehensive about how Dlugolecki will perform if Hall is unable to return for several weeks.

"He's been thrown into the fire unexpectedly and a little early," Craft said. "Adam Hall was a big loss for us, and when Matt came in, he was a little behind because he missed some fall camp due to classes. I think he's progressed fairly well, but not to the point where he's ready to take on these next eight opponents."

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San Diego State's defense has not given up an offensive touchdown to a Division I-A opponent. The only two offensive touchdowns given up have been by Division I-AA Eastern Washington and Samford. The Aztecs shut out Texas El Paso, and Ohio State scored its only touchdown against San Diego State on a 100-yard interception return.... There will be a fireworks show during halftime tonight.... Former Bruin running backs Rob Smith (1961-62) and Bobby Smith (1959-61) will serve as honorary captains tonight, participating in the pregame coin flip.

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