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Defense gets minor shake-up

October 16, 2008|Chris Foster | Times Staff Writer

There were changes expected and, though not drastic, the UCLA defense will have some different looks.

After an epidemic of missed tackles against Oregon, defensive coordinator DeWayne Walker was ready to shake up personnel. He will do so on a limited basis against Stanford on Saturday.

Glenn Love, a redshirt freshman, will share the strong safety spot with senior Bret Lockett, which Walker hopes will make the Bruins a little tougher against the run. Oregon gained 323 yards rushing in a 31-24 victory last Saturday.

"We gave Glenn Love a look this week and he's done OK," Walker said. "I think you've got to put him out there. Just like anything, unless you give a guy an opportunity, you never know what he can do."

Lockett wasn't alone in struggling against the Ducks' spread offense, but he had more than a few spotlight moments to relive while reviewing the game tape.

"It's about making plays," Walker said. "We feel like we've put him in position to do so, and it's not like he's not making plays. But we want him to make all his plays. There have just been times that he hasn't. We're not going to give up on him. But he understands we need more production out of him."

Lockett is second on the team with 42 tackles. He has had difficulty in the open field. Oregon quarterback Jeremiah Masoli exploited that Saturday, rushing for 170 yards.

That led to Walker's giving Love work with the first-team defense. Lockett certainly got the message.

"I have to show coach Walker I can play consistently," Lockett said. "Just little things here and there so he doesn't have anything to say about it. That's what he expects out of me.

"The open-field tackling is probably the hardest thing in football to do. Playing safety, sometimes you feel like you're out there on an island. You're scared that if I miss a tackle, then it's a touchdown. You've got to have the mind-set where you've got to go get the guy."

Love, who is 6 feet 4, 207 pounds, can give the Bruins a stronger presence against the run. Stanford averages 184 yards rushing a game.

"Tackling is my strength," Love said. "I have to go out there and play physical. I may need a little more work on coverage but tackling is key."

Austin, Reed available?

Coach Rick Neuheisel said that wide receiver Terrence Austin and offensive lineman Micah Reed should play this weekend.

Austin suffered a strained neck and concussion against Oregon. He was in pads Wednesday but was not allowed to participate in drills.

"That's just because of the concussion protocol, but he'll be out here [today], full go," Neuheisel said. "I expect him to play, we'll see how much."

Neuheisel said the same about Reed, who is coming back from a strained knee. Reed, the Bruins starting center when the season began, practiced at left guard Wednesday.

"It felt good," Reed said. "I did more reps than I anticipated today and I think I'm ready to go."

Scott Glicksberg, who is battling a shoulder injury, did limited work Wednesday.

Go get 'em guys!

Neuheisel gave a pep talk at the end of practice Wednesday.

"I was making sure they realize there is lots to play for," Neuheisel said.

Asked if he felt they needed to be reminded, Neuheisel said, "I don't know if they did, but I reminded them whether they needed it or not."

UCLA must win four of its last six games to become bowl eligible.


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