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Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck presents an early test for UCLA's secondary

UCLA FOOTBALL FYI

Luck's passing will provide a change of pace for the Bruins' defense. UCLA receivers, meanwhile, hope to rebound from a season opener in which they dropped several passes.

September 10, 2010|By Chris Foster

UCLA cornerback Aaron Hester knows he and the rest of UCLA's secondary need to be on their toes against Stanford on Saturday.

A week ago, the passing threat was minimal — Kansas State ran the ball, and ran it well. Stanford, though, requires a whole different mind-set.

The Cardinal has a strong running game and is expected to test the Bruins' defensive front. However, quarterback Andrew Luck is the primary concern.

"Stanford is a double threat," Hester said. "You have to be ready for a lot of different things."

The Bruins' pass coverage was adequate against Kansas State, though the secondary wasn't tested much. The Wildcats threw 17 mostly safe-and-sane passes.

The Cardinal will certainly prod the pass defense more. Luck threw for 316 yards last week against Sacramento State.

Luck connected on two long passes against UCLA last season, a 40-yard completion to Ryan Whalen and a 46-yard toss to Whalen on a flea flicker. Both led to touchdowns.

"Stanford has a well-established quarterback," Hester said. "We know they are going to try to run the ball, but we've got to cover downfield and be a sound tackling team. If we are a good tackling team, we should win the game."

What's the catch?

UCLA receivers dropped several passes against Kansas State, which led to a heightened emphasis on holding on to the ball during practice this week.

"We definitely fine-toothed-combed the film and made them understand that from here on out we have to make big plays," said Reggie Moore, coach of UCLA's wide receivers. "Our group has to be the catalyst to take us where we need to go."

There was extra work for all.

"We made sure that we each got six, seven, eight balls during each drill," wide receiver Ricky Marvray said. "This is our job."

By the numbers

Stanford is ranked 25th by the Associated Press. Rick Neuheisel has a 1-5 record against ranked teams since becoming UCLA's coach. He has lost five consecutive games to ranked teams since beating No.18 Tennessee in 2008, his first game as the Bruins' coach.

Stanford has not beaten UCLA at the Rose Bowl since a 21-20 victory in 1996. The Cardinal also lost to Wisconsin, 17-9, in the 2000 Rose Bowl game, making Stanford 0 for its last 7 in Pasadena.

UCLA has sold between 45,000 and 50,000 tickets for the game. The smallest crowd for a home opener at the Rose Bowl since 1988 was 37,965, when the Bruins played Cal State Fullerton in 1992.

Injury report

Stanford wide receiver and kick returner Chris Owusu and linebacker Shayne Skov are listed as questionable because of undisclosed injuries. If Owusu, a second-team All-American last season, is unable to play, Doug Baldwin is expected to handle kickoff returns. Running back Jeremy Stewart is also iffy because of what is believed to be an ankle injury.

UCLA is expected to have everyone available who played last week, though quarterback Kevin Prince had his practice time limited because of a sore right shoulder.

chris.foster@latimes.com

twitter.com/cfosterlatimes

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