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UCLA's Jeff Baca expected to return to practice this week

The guard missed the last two games with what was called a head injury. His absence played a role in the Bruins' 27-20 to Oregon State.

September 24, 2012|By Chris Foster, Los Angeles Times
  • Jeff Baca missed the previous two games with a head injury.
Jeff Baca missed the previous two games with a head injury. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles…)

UCLA guard Jeff Baca is expected to return to practice this week after missing the last two games with what was called a head injury.

Baca was held out against Oregon State at the last minute Saturday. He has been suffering from headaches the last two weeks but was cleared to practice this week after undergoing tests Sunday.

Coach Jim Mora was coy, saying only: "We'll get a clearer picture on his future [Monday]."

Mora said that "we don't want to make excuses," but Baca's absence from the lineup did play a role in the Bruins' struggles on the ground against the Beavers. UCLA had only 72 yards rushing. Greg Capella, Baca's backup, suffered a concussion last week and did not play.

Brett Downey started at right guard but was replaced by Alberto Cid. Neither received many reps in practice last week.

"It was less about depth and more about being able to prepare during the week," Mora said. "It's difficult for a player to get minimal work and then have to go in and play, especially against a really good defensive front like Oregon State. If this was the NFL, I would say, 'too bad, go play,' but we're not dealing with professional athletes here.

"I have all the confidence in the world in any of our guys to go out and play."

Capella remains questionable this week.

Baca has started 35 games during his four-year career. That experience has helped first-year freshman Simon Goines, who starts at right tackle.

UCLA starts Jake Brendel at center and Torian White at tackle. Both are redshirt freshmen. Xavier Su'a-Filo, a sophomore who spent the last two years on a Mormon mission, is at the other guard.

Price check

It was a rough day for Bruins cornerback Sheldon Price, who was on the chasing end of two long touchdown passes against Oregon State.

Brandin Cooks went 75 yards on short post and Markus Wheaton went over the top for 42 yards in the Beavers' 27-20 victory.

"We've done a good job up this point defending the deep ball," Mora said. "We'll have to redouble our efforts."

Cooks had six receptions for 175 yards, Wheaton nine for 150.

Price, though, received little help on Cooks' touchdown. Safety Tevin McDonald bit on a play-action fake, rushing forward. Cooks first deked Price, then went by McDonald to make the catch.

"We are there to make plays on the ball, that's on us," Price said. "The receiver ran a good route and the quarterback put the ball on the money. But that's on us in the back end. We have to make plays."

Extra sauce on that victory

Oregon State visited two legendary Southern California institutions Saturday: the Rose Bowl and In-N-Out Burger.

Coach Mike Riley made good on a promise and had the team bus stop for burgers after Saturday's victory. He posted on his Twitter account, "Just finished our business in LA, now it's time for a little fun, headed to In-N-Out as a team!"

Sunday was another in-and-out moment. Oregon State was in the Associated Press poll and UCLA was out. The Beavers are ranked 18th. The Bruins were ranked 19th last week.

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