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Hall is back for another go at Bruins

September 13, 2008|Chris Foster | Times Staff Writer

This is hardly a passing fancy.

Brigham Young's Max Hall walked into the Utah game last season still recovering from a separated right shoulder. All he did was rally the Cougars in the final minute for a 17-10 victory.

So it's not as if UCLA players have to be sold on the junior quarterback's grit.

Besides, the Bruins have enough game film, and their own bad memories, to reference heading into today's game in Provo.

"He has all that toughness," UCLA Coach Rick Neuheisel said. "He'll be remembered fondly by BYU faithful, and we all know what a great quarterback reputation that school has."

This will be the third time in a little more than a year that Hall has faced UCLA. The Bruins blitzed and harassed him, but Hall still passed for 391 yards and nearly rallied the Cougars from a 20-0 deficit in a 27-17 loss during the regular season.

Months later, in the Las Vegas Bowl, the Bruins got another dose. Hall passed for 231 yards and two touchdowns in a 17-16 victory.

The scary thing for the Bruins is, Hall seems better than last season.

"The word to describe it is maturity," BYU Coach Bronco Mendenhall said.

Hall, who transferred from Arizona State, has passed for 824 yards and five touchdowns in two games, a nice follow-up to a season when he threw for 3,848 yards and 26 touchdowns.

There is no lack of talent for Hall to tap. BYU has four players with more than 10 receptions, including tight end Dennis Pitta, who has 21 for 361 yards.

But it all starts with Hall.

"There is a lot of responsibility that comes with it," Hall said about playing quarterback at BYU.

"You learn pretty quick that you're not only representing the football team, you're representing your school and your faith. A lot of people are looking up to you."

Yet following in the steps of other BYU quarterbacks hardly seems to faze Hall.

"Actually, it's pretty cool," Hall said. "You play at the place where guys like Steve Young, Jim McMahon, Ty Detmer, Robbie Bosco played. You have to do everything you can to live up to that and, maybe one day, even have your name mentioned with them."

While Hall throws at them, the Bruins will be throwing a few things back in the form of different defensive schemes.

"They blitzed a lot of guys at me and manned up the first game, then switched up in the bowl game," Hall said of UCLA's approach last season. "I'm sure I'm going to get both looks this time."

Catching up with Ketchum

UCLA receiver Gavin Ketchum is ready to play football again. For now, that's enough.

Ketchum missed the last nine games in 2007 after suffering a broken ankle. Then he was preparing to play in the Bruins' opener this season when more bad luck struck. Ketchum had to sit out three weeks because of mononucleosis.

"The frustration is finally starting to go away now that I'm practicing again," said Ketchum, a junior. "It was tough to watch the whole year last year, come out here and get so close to playing again, then something comes out of nowhere."

Ketchum is expected to play today.

For starters

UCLA will start Chane Moline at tailback, Darius Savage at guard and Aaron Ware at free safety.


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