Injuries create opportunities.
UCLA linebacker Kyle Bosworth has been hobbled by a partially torn knee ligament, which is expected to sideline him for at least the next two games.
To replace him, Reggie Carter has moved from middle linebacker over to the weak side, and redshirt freshman Steve Sloan has taken over in the middle -- with on-field control of the defense.
"Steve had a good training camp and showed us he was ready," defensive coordinator DeWayne Walker said. "He needs the opportunity."
Linebackers coach Chuck Bullough said Sloan "was the most improved player we had during spring ball. He just knows what is going to happen out there before it happens."
Said Sloan: "I've been in the program a year now. I get it."
Sloan, 6 feet 3, 235 pounds, played some in the Bruins' season-opening, 27-24 victory over Tennessee, after Carter sustained a minor knee injury. However, when Bosworth was injured in the first quarter last week against Brigham Young, freshman Sean Westgate took over at the weak-side spot with Carter staying in the middle.
Having Carter on the field with him will help, Sloan said. So too have conversations he has had with Christian Taylor, the Bruins' middle linebacker last season. Though Taylor was a senior last season, they still talk about once a week, Sloan said.
"Sloan is a lot like Christian," Bullough said. "He's very intelligent and very hard nosed."
Thursday's practice ended with only one probable change coming to the offensive line. After the Bruins spent a week trying different combinations, guard Scott Glicksberg is expected to start at right guard in place of Sonny Tevaga.
Glicksberg sat out last week's 59-0 loss to BYU nursing a sore shoulder. Brandon Bennett and Jeff Baca were given reps with the first team through the week, but the Bruins are expected to stick with Micah Kia and Nick Ekbatani at tackles, Darius Savage at guard and Jake Dean at center.
"We're mixing and matching, and that can sound like we're unhappy with them," Coach Rick Neuheisel said. "But it's more than that. They have been very adaptable, very open to change and, hopefully, we'll come up with a combination we can stick with awhile."
The Bruins have 38 yards rushing and are averaging 0.8 yards a carry.
The availability of tailback Kahlil Bell, who has an injured ankle, will be a game-time decision.
"I'll watch him in the pregame," Neuheisel said. "I kind of have knowledge of what he's supposed to look like. If I see it, we'll give him a tap and let him have some chances. If I don't see it, we'll put him on ice and see if he can't be ready for the next time."
If Bell cannot play, Chane Moline, Raymond Carter and freshman Derrick Coleman will share time at tailback. Aundre Dean (ankle) is expected to miss the game.
Odds and split ends
Wide receiver Dominique Johnson did not go through drills Thursday because of a tender hamstring. . . . Former UCLA linebacker Roman Phifer attended practice.