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Pac-10 challenges arrive early for UCLA

Bruins must take on highly regarded Stanford after only one nonconference game, a loss to Kansas State.

September 06, 2010|By Chris Foster

UCLA jumps from getting burned in the frying pan to being dangled over the fire.

The Bruins, still sore from being run over by Kansas State, head into Pacific 10 Conference play this week, facing a Stanford team that is billed as one of the conference's best.

The last two seasons, the Bruins had three weeks before starting conference play, allowing them time to work out the kinks. This season, they had one game, where there were plenty of kinks to be found.

"It is certainly a challenge," Coach Rick Neuheisel said about the early start to conference play. "But they have to jump right into it too."

Stanford's jump is really more of a hop, after barely breaking a sweat in a 52-17 victory over Sacramento State.

UCLA's was a shove, as the Bruins gave up 313 yards rushing in a 31-22 loss to Kansas State.

"Scheduling is interesting and everyone has a different philosophy," Neuheisel said. "Our game turned out to be a dog fight and we did not hold a lot back."

Other teams, such as Stanford, barely had to crack the playbook, having an opener that provided "the luxury of holding on to things," Neuheisel said.

UCLA's preparation will be based somewhat on history.

"You make your educated guesses in terms of what they'll do offensively and defensively," Neuheisel said. "It's relatively the same staff, so you have to expect that it will look a lot the same."

Getting a little R and R

One of the solutions UCLA will try in an effort to shore up the defensive front is less work for the weary.

Neuheisel said, as an example, that defensive tackle Justin Edison played "more plays Saturday than he did all of last season."

The concern, though, is that the reserves on the defensive line are mostly young and inexperienced, including freshman tackles Cassius Marsh and Seali'i Epenesa.

Marsh played 10 plays against Kansas State. Epenesa did not get off the bench.

"We may scrimmage our young kids tomorrow, 10-15 plays of live action, to see if the legs are better so we're not just going on blind faith," Neuheisel said.

As for using Epenesa, Neuheisel said, "you make sure if you're going to use his year, you don't use him for three or four plays a game. If he can play 10-15 plays, obviously that's a legitimate freshman year."

But Neuheisel was emphatic that "we got to spell our [starters] so they can go 100 mph when they are in there."

Quick hits

Chandler (Ariz.) High's Brett Hundley, considered one of the top high school quarterbacks in the nation, Monday announced he will attend UCLA. … Mike Harris, who served his one-game suspension Saturday, will fill a backup tackle spot this week.

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