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UCLA REPORT

Defense Gears Up to Stop USC Rush

November 30, 2004|Lonnie White | Times Staff Writer

Statistically, it reads like a mismatch. USC's rushing offense, third in the Pacific 10 Conference at 170.7 yards a game, versus UCLA's rushing defense, last in the conference in giving up 221 yards a game.

Linebacker Justin London, however, said that the Bruins match up well against the Trojans' ground attack.

"Their running game isn't anything special that other people don't do," London said. "We just have to play sound defense.... If everybody plays in their gap and does their job, we'll be fine."

UCLA's defense will also be at full strength against the Trojans, with safety Jarrad Page back after sitting out most of the last two weeks to rest a hamstring injury. Coach Karl Dorrell said he was pleased with the Bruins' effort in practice on Monday.

"This was our normal Tuesday-style practice with some good heavy contact work," said Dorrell, who had his team practice in full pads for the first time in two weeks. "The players were excited about getting back and getting in work like that."

Added London: "It was a big physical day for us ... it was good to knock some rust off."

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Running back Maurice Drew, who suffered an ankle injury against Washington State on Nov. 6 and did not play at Oregon the following week, left practice early.

"He tweaked his ankle again in practice," Dorrell said. "That was one of the unfortunate things that happened. We'll have to see what happens with him over the next few days."

If Drew is unable to play, UCLA will feature Manuel White and freshman Chris Markey, who rushed for 131 yards against the Ducks, as running backs against USC.

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UCLA is 4-8 against No. 1 teams and 0-3 when USC has been ranked No. 1. The last time the Bruins defeated a No. 1 team was Ohio State in the 1976 Rose Bowl.... The Rose Bowl parking lot will open at 7 a.m. on Saturday, not 10:30 a.m.

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