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Sack attack still is a priority

October 08, 2008|Chris Foster | Times Staff Writer

There was proper incentive for UCLA's defensive front last week.

The Bruins had had four sacks in four games and defensive line coach Todd Howard was tired on missing out.

"Sacks are like touchdowns to me," he said.

So the deal was simple.

"We had a meeting last week and he told us to start making some moves or we were going to be doing a lot of bear crawls out there in practice," tackle Brigham Harwell said. "It was very motivating."

The Bruins had four sacks against Washington State on Saturday.

The Bruins have had troubles up front for a variety of reasons. Bruce Davis, the Pacific 10 Conference co-leader in sacks last season, has graduated. Ends Tom Blake and Korey Bosworth have struggled because of nagging injuries.

That left the Bruins' pass rush on the outside less dangerous.

"We were being a little robotic with it," Bosworth said. "We weren't doing everything we could to get at the quarterback. Last week, we did a lot of stunts. We were also individually conscious about getting to the quarterback."

They will need to be again this week against Oregon's spread offense. Howard will continue to experiment with different personnel and blitzes. Tackle Chase Moline probably will get more time at end. Center Jess Ward was moved back to tackle to fill Moline's void.

The Ducks have a strong running game and two quarterbacks, Justin Roper and Jeremiah Masoli, who have had injury problems. Roper injured a knee against Purdue on Sept. 13 and is expected to return this week. Masoli suffered a concussion against Boise State on Sept 20 but has started the last two weeks.

"We have to get pressure on guys to win," Bosworth said. "If we don't, we'll get punished."

Bellotti has no problem

Oregon Coach Mike Bellotti called past rough spots with UCLA Coach Rick Neuheisel as portrayed more by the "fans and press than anybody else" and that the two are "good friends," despite the fact that Neuheisel criticized Oregon's recruiting tactics in 2002.

"I don't know that is the case," Bellotti said when asked whether Neuheisel has pushed his buttons. "We are pretty good friends, more than people think. I respect what he has done and I have heard him say the same things about me."

Odds and split end

Center Micah Reed (knee) went through individual drills and wide receiver Marcus Everett (toe) took some reps. Both remain questionable for Saturday.

Tailback Raymond Carter (groin) sat out practice.


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