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Receivers may try to hit the long ball

November 06, 2008|David Wharton | Wharton is a Times staff writer.

The UCLA receivers have seen videotape of Oregon State's defense and know the Beavers have been burned on fade routes this fall.

"They play a lot of man bump," freshman receiver Taylor Embree said. "Any time you play that, you're susceptible to getting beat deep."

The question is, can the Bruins' offensive line supply the time to let longer routes develop? Embree said the receiving corps can't worry about what's happening back at the line of scrimmage.

"We've just got to keep believing in our line," he said. "We just stay true to what our route depths are and the routes we run."

Meanwhile, Oregon State Coach Mike Riley said his defensive backs are working to improve their coverage against the deep ball.

"Everybody sees the film, sees where something is happening," he said. "Yes, we have worked on it and we'll work on it some more."

Slim pickings

When asked if he had settled on a starting offensive line for the game on Saturday, UCLA Coach Rick Neuheisel laughed.

"We'll play with what we've got," he said. "And be excited about it."

The Bruins don't have a whole lot of options, not with injuries and two linemen suspended this week for breaking athletic department rules. Sources said they violated the drug-use policy.

For now, Mike Harris is slated to get his second consecutive start at right tackle. The promotion has been a challenge for the freshman, both in games and during the week.

"Before I was starting, I only had five or six reps at practice," he said. "Now I'm taking over 50 . . . so I've got to be on my game."

Harris and his linemates will face an Oregon State defense that plays a standard 4-3 and ranks about the middle of the conference in most defensive categories. Defensive end Slade Norris has 6.5 sacks.

"We're undersized compared to other offensive lines in the Pac-10," Harris said. "We have to go hard and play aggressive against them."

Celebrity sightings

Ron Shelton, the writer-director of films such as "Bull Durham" and "White Men Can't Jump," stopped by practice on Wednesday to offer words of encouragement to Neuheisel.

There was also an appearance by Chris Horton, the former Bruins defensive back, now a rookie with the Washington Redskins.

A seventh-round draft pick, Horton has been a pleasant surprise in the NFL, starting six games and intercepting three passes this season.

"I always knew I could play football," he said of his NFL success. "It's just football."

Horton has been in contact with another UCLA alum: When the Redskins played the Pittsburgh Steelers on Monday night, he said, Bruce Davis "was on the sideline running his mouth."

Health matters

Safety Tony Dye sat out practice because of an injured foot and tailback Craig Sheppard is questionable to doubtful because of a sore hamstring. Receiver Nelson Rosario missed another day of practice after injuring his ankle and Neuheisel said he was doubtful against Oregon State.

Defensive line coach Todd Howard, who hurt himself running with players this week, is scheduled for surgery on his Achilles' tendon Monday.

"When it starts to creep into your coaching staff," Neuheisel said, "that's when you know you're under that black cloud."


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