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Down in the mouth

As the Bruins suffered through the pain of their loss to Utah, Breazell had a strong game despite playing with a few fewer teeth than usual

September 20, 2007|Chris Foster | Times Staff Writer

Brandon Breazell was the one player putting some bite into the UCLA offense last week.

Sinking his teeth into a hamburger, well, that can be biting off more than he can chew.

That Breazell, a senior, continues to play, and produce, for the Bruins is more than just the marvels of modern dentistry. It also involves some intestinal fortitude that the Bruins can only hope is contagious.

Breazell is less than two weeks from inadvertently getting walloped by teammate Logan Paulsen while trying to chase down a Brigham Young defensive back who had intercepted a pass. The did-you-get-the-number-of-that-truck collision knocked out two teeth, cracked a third. Breazell spent a week learning more dental work than those in UCLA's school of dentistry are likely to pick up in a semester.

Yet, Breazell not only has been at every practice, he was one of the few players to walk away from Saturday's debacle in Utah without a scarlet letter. Breazell tied his career high with six receptions for 121 yards.

"If you can imagine this, you get your teeth knocked out, have all that root canal surgery, don't miss a practice and then have that kind of performance," UCLA Coach Karl Dorrell said. "That tells you what kind of kid he is and how important football is to him."

A message to other Bruins players in the wake of the 44-6 disaster in Utah?

"Brandon is the type of leader who is going out there and giving his all regardless if he has false teeth, dentures or any teeth at all," cornerback Trey Brown said. "That will trickle down to the rest of the guys on the team and help us go out there and work somebody on Saturday."

Breazell isn't one for being held up as poster child for the Bruins getting their act together this week, but neither is he one to gloss over the issues that left the team in a state of urgency.

"Last week, the practices were not up to par," Breazell said. "You got to come in here and work as if it is the last practice, work like it's the last breath you're going to take."

His actions give those words weight.

Breazell, who is listed at 6 feet and 160 pounds, said he never saw the 6-6, 250-pound Paulsen coming as the two were trying to chase down BYU's Kayle Buchanan, who had just intercepted a Ben Olson pass. "I got clobbered," Breazell said.

The result was a minor concussion and a week's worth of dental work. Breazell underwent three root canals in four days last week, yet he never missed a practice.

He went out Saturday and made two catches for 39 yards on the Bruins' first drive against Utah, which ended in a field goal that cut Utah's lead to 7-3.

"All in a 150-pound body," wide receivers coach Eric Scott said. "But size doesn't determine toughness."

Breazell has made a habit of producing when less than healthy.

He has a team-high 16 receptions for 267 yards and a touchdown this season. He had 21 receptions for 389 yards and four touchdowns in 2006, saving his best performance for Arizona State -- two days after undergoing a root canal.

Breazell caught two touchdown passes, one late in the fourth quarter to clinch a 24-12 victory.

"[Karl Jordan], our conditioning coach told me this week, 'I've known you all four years and you play better when you're sick or don't feel good,' " Breazell said. "He told me I needed surgery every week."

Breazell will have it this week, as he is having the cracked tooth pulled and the bone reconstructed in preparation for getting implants.

But the pain he wants removed is the Utah loss.

"We didn't have the right mind-set last week," Breazell said. "We need that now. It's like it's a championship game each week."

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chris.foster@latimes.com

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