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UCLA FOOTBALL FYI

Hester's leg injury hurts depth at corner

September 06, 2009|Chris Foster and Chris Dufresne

UCLA's victory Saturday was tempered by an injury suffered by cornerback Aaron Hester, leaving a thin position a little weaker.

Hester suffered a cracked right fibula on the first series against San Diego State, then played on it until the second quarter. He said he expected to be out at least three weeks.

"I was making a tackle with [linebacker] Reggie Carter and just kind of landed wrong," said Hester, a redshirt freshman. "It just kept hurting."

Courtney Viney, a 5-foot-7 sophomore, took over for Hester and probably will start against Tennessee next week.

"Guys are going to have to step up," defensive coordinator Chuck Bullough said. "You don't want to be the weak link."

The Bruins cannot afford many injuries at cornerback. After Viney, UCLA has walk-on Andrew Abbott, who was beaten by San Diego State's Vincent Brown on a 78-yard touchdown pass play. Freshmen Sheldon Price and Marlon Pollard may also be pressed into service.

"They all said coming here that they wanted to play as freshmen," Bullough said. "This is their opportunity."

UCLA's defense held San Diego State to 277 total yards. Safety Rahim Moore had three interceptions, tying a school record.

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Special teams

The Bruins got a boost from two plays from special teams.

Terrence Austin returned a kickoff 65 yards, setting up a 12-yard touchdown run by Johnathan Franklin that cut San Diego State's lead to 14-10 in the first quarter.

In the third quarter, Jerzy Sieiwierski blocked a field-goal attempt and Alterraun Verner returned it 70 yards for a touchdown and a 33-14 lead.

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Difference-maker

First-year San Diego State Coach Brady Hoke led Ball State to a 12-1 season in 2008. He did not coach the team's GMAC Bowl loss to Tulsa.

But look what has happened since he left: The Cardinals lost their Thursday opener, 20-10, to North Texas, which finished 1-11 last year.

Ball State didn't only lose Hoke as its coach. The Cardinals also lost star quarterback Nate Davis, who just earned a roster spot with the San Francisco 49ers as a fifth-round draft pick.

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Familiar spot

This wasn't Hoke's first trip to the Rose Bowl. He was defensive line coach for Michigan in the Wolverines' 1998 Rose Bowl win over Washington State.

Michigan finished 12-0 in 1997 and earned the Associated Press share of the national title. Michigan was also No. 1 in the coaches' poll entering that Rose Bowl, but the coaches ultimately voted Nebraska No.1 after the Cornhuskers defeated Tennessee in the Orange Bowl.

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Wake-up call

UCLA and San Diego State have played 14 times since the Aztecs became Division I in 1969. Only once in those 14 games has San Diego State had a second-half lead against UCLA. It happened in 1989, but UCLA rallied for a 28-25 win.

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Quick hits

Kai Forbath kicked a 51-yard field goal in the first quarter. It was his seventh from 50 yards or more in his career, a UCLA record. . . . Tackle Xavier Su'a-Filo became the first true freshman to start on the UCLA offense. The Bruins used eight true freshmen.

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chris.foster@latimes.com; twitter.comcfosterlatimes

chris.dufresne@latimes.com; twitter.comDufresneLATimes

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