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Big Catches Are Taylor-Made

September 28, 2003|Robyn Norwood | Times Staff Writer

Receiver Junior Taylor's big-play potential had not been tapped this season, but UCLA went to him early and often Saturday against San Diego State.

Taylor is known best for the first time he touched the ball as a freshman last season, when he turned a reverse into a 49-yard touchdown against Colorado State.

He received the ball on a reverse on UCLA's first play from scrimmage against the Aztecs, and he turned it into a 10-yard gain.

After catching only five passes in the first three games, none longer than eight yards, he broke through with the first 100-yard receiving game of his career Saturday.

He finished with seven catches for 110 yards, highlighted by a 41-yard touchdown reception in the third quarter.

The Bruins' new offense hadn't used Taylor to its best advantage the first three games, and Taylor expressed frustration about it last week.

But it wasn't only neglect that kept Taylor from being a big part of the offense.

Against Illinois, he dropped a long pass in the end zone, costing UCLA what would have been the only touchdown of the game.

He made up for it against San Diego State on a very similar play.

This time, he hung onto the ball, wrestling it away from a defensive back to score.

"I got my swagger back," Taylor said. "I got my confidence back. I was really down the first couple of weeks."


Offensive coordinator Steve Axman, who had been calling the plays from the press box -- as most of the offensive coordinators prefer -- moved to the sideline.

"I was concerned about the signals getting picked off and [UCLA Coach Karl Dorrell] thought it would be good with the young quarterbacks," Axman said.

The Bruins engaged in some deception tactics to try to foil any attempt by the Aztecs to steal the signals from the sideline.

Instead of having one backup quarterback help signal the plays, UCLA used three, meaning John Sciarra, Brian Callahan and Josh Roenicke all stood on the sideline making different signals.

With Axman on the sidelines, receivers coach Jon Embree -- who had been relaying the plays -- moved to the press box.


Drew Olson had his best game Saturday but struggled with fumbles. His opportunity as the starting quarterback might be drawing to an end.

Matt Moore, who won the job out of training camp but suffered a bone bruise in his leg in the opening game against Colorado, will resume practicing this week and says he expects to be ready to play Saturday against Washington.

"We'll reevaluate it when he comes back," Axman said. "We have to first make sure he's ready to go."


Some players wear more than one hat.

Shane Lehmann needed more than one jersey.

Lehmann normally wears No. 55 as an offensive lineman.

But because he backed up Marcedes Lewis at tight end with Blane Kezirian injured, Lehmann needed a legal number for a tight end, wearing No. 90 when he was in the game at that position.

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