YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections


They're thrown off by Tuitama

September 20, 2008|Chris Foster | Times Staff Writer

UCLA found a way to handle Arizona quarterback Willie Tuitama once before.

The Bruins sent him to the hospital.

Tuitama was knocked out of the 2006 game at the Rose Bowl, a 27-7 UCLA victory. But when not spending time in the ER, Tuitama has left the Bruins in need of an IV.

In 2005, he threw for 204 yards and two touchdowns in a 52-14 Arizona victory over a previously undefeated UCLA team. Last season, he threw for 341 yards and three touchdowns in a 34-27 victory.

In three games against UCLA, he has completed 41 of 71 passes for 588 yards and five touchdowns, and has not had a pass intercepted.

"He finds the open areas and is fairly accurate," UCLA cornerback Alterraun Verner said. "He gets the ball to his guys and lets his playmakers make plays."

Against New Mexico last week, Tuitama also got opposing playmakers involved. Although he threw for 321 yards and three touchdowns, two of his passes were intercepted and he lost two fumbles.

"We had to come from behind, and he threw some balls not many people can throw," Arizona Coach Mike Stoops said. "His accuracy was outstanding, but his decision making was a little out of whack. That is going to happen when you have to throw 50 times because you're in a desperate situation."

The Bruins know about that, as Tuitama put them in a desperate situation last season, building a 34-14 lead early in the third quarter. "They saw the scheme we were playing and found the openings," Verner said. "At times, we left people out there on islands and he was able to exploit it."

What's the spread?

The Bruins have had trouble against spread offenses in recent seasons. Besides last year's Arizona game, UCLA lost to Washington State, which held a huge time-of-possession edge in a 27-7 victory.

"There are two kinds of spread," UCLA defensive coordinator DeWayne Walker said. "You have the spread with the element of the running and the spread with the element of the passing game. Arizona opens you up by passing the ball."

Wildcats running back Nic Grigsby gained 124 yards rushing, 60 on one touchdown run, against the Bruins last season.

"It's an open-type offense and you're going to have to make plays against it," Walker said.

Injury update

UCLA wide receiver Nelson Rosario (strained knee) is listed as probable.


Los Angeles Times Articles