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UCLA FYI

Craft grows from experience

September 11, 2008|Chris Foster | Times Staff Writer

The pendulum swung for UCLA quarterback Kevin Craft, and the Monday morning quarterbacking was easy to predict.

Craft was a bum, throwing four passes for interceptions in the first half against Tennessee in the opener. Craft was a hero, taking the Bruins on two fourth-quarter touchdown drives that led to a 27-24 overtime victory.

Neither moniker has stuck just yet. The indications from the first game are that things can go either way. But in the week since the game, Craft has seemed more poised in practice.

"I don't think you could have written a better script," offensive coordinator Norm Chow said. "My wife said it was like a movie. The problem is the movie is not over yet. We don't know how it's going to end."

The plot thickens Saturday against Brigham Young.

Craft gave his role a little depth, overcoming the four interceptions to throw for 193 yards in the second half. The effects from that game have been positive, Chow said.

"I've seen some real growth in his maturity," Chow said. "He's more confident in the huddle and is understanding the offense better. It's still going to take some time. It's not like he's a polished guy just yet."

Craft's play in practice since that game has been smoother, with fewer interceptions. Craft said he learned "to stick to the game plan and don't try to push the ball up the field. The big plays will happen."

The victory, though, did help Craft in one area.

Said Coach Rick Neuheisel said: "He brought us back in that game, and that will always be there. You can talk until you're blue in the face about stuff like that, but until you've done it, you always wonder."

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Bell curve

Tailback Kahlil Bell (high ankle sprain) did not practice Wednesday.

"Kahlil has been downgraded very, very doubtful, closer to out," Neuheisel said.

Chane Moline and Raymond Carter will do the bulk of the work if Bell is out, though Neuheisel wasn't sure who would start. "I think they will be 1 and 1-A," he said. "I saw [USC Coach] Pete Carroll interviewed today, and he's got five starters [at tailback], so I can have two."

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Provo memories

Craft has one thing on his side Saturday. He has played in Provo before. He made his first college start for San Diego State against Brigham Young.

"It's an awesome environment, but it is really loud," Craft said. "I think the experience will help me going there this time."

Craft completed 20 of 32 passes for 216 yards and had one pass intercepted in a 47-17 loss.

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Chow hounded

Chow has been asked several times this week about returning to Provo, where he spent 27 years as an assistant coach before leaving after the 1999 season.

"There is nothing to it," he said. "It has been such a long time and there's a lot of water under bridge. It's just a game we've got to win."

Things might be different if this were the first time he went back to Provo. He was there in 2004, as USC's offensive coordinator and won, 42-10. Of course, he was a little better equipped for that game, with Matt Leinart and Reggie Bush at his disposal.

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Bumps and run

Defensive end Korey Bosworth returned to practice after suffering a sprained left ankle Tuesday. . . . Brigham Harwell, who suffered a bruised left elbow Tuesday, also practiced. . . . BYU has won four of its last five games against Pacific 10 Conference teams.

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chris.foster@latimes.com

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UP NEXT

UCLA at No. 18 BYU

Saturday, 12:30 PDT, Versus

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