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Bruin Victories Keep Donahue on His Toes

Times Staff Writer

Tell us, Terry Donahue, about your dance after UCLA’s 24-17 victory over Washington last Saturday at Seattle.

“It doesn’t look like break dancing, and it doesn’t look like an Irish jig,” Donahue said Monday. “I would say it’s a hybrid of the two.”

The UCLA coach said he dances for his players after every victory.

The tradition started several years ago, he said, when one of the players got a little rambunctious as Donahue led the team in singing the UCLA fight song.

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“He got carried away and started (spraying) his (soft drink) on me,” Donahue said. “Everybody else thought that would be fun, so they all started (spraying) me.

“To get away from it, I started squirming and dancing, and doing kind of a poor imitation of an Irish jig.”

The fight song, the cola bath and Donahue’s dance have been a part of every UCLA victory ever since.

A review of the dance in Sunday’s Seattle Times was not kind.

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“He just kind of jumps and skips around,” UCLA cornerback Darryl Henley told a reporter. “He doesn’t have much rhythm.”

Despite whipping up a disco inferno in the locker room after what he called a “significant” victory, Donahue saw several areas in which the Bruins need to improve.

Among them:

--UCLA was lax in protecting quarterback Troy Aikman, who was sacked only once, but “took more physical hits than he’s taken in a game this year,” Donahue said.

--UCLA was shoddy in defending against Washington’s option offense, which produced several long gains, and did not force any Husky turnovers.

--UCLA played poorly against the Huskies’ 2-minute offense, which produced a 75-yard touchdown drive at the end of the first half and moved deep enough into UCLA territory at the end of the game to be throwing into the end zone as time ran out.

--UCLA put little pressure on Washington quarterback Cary Conklin, who was more effective than Aikman for most of the game, completing 19 of 37 passes for 163 yards and a touchdown.

“If we put more heat on the quarterback, our pass defense will improve,” Donahue said.

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--UCLA was unable to throw long, in part because the Bruins, fearful of the Husky pass rush, limited Aikman to a five-step drop.

Also, the Bruins ran a conservative attack, believing they could fatigue the bigger Huskies by consistently running at them.

Aikman completed 16 of 26 passes for 175 yards and a touchdown.

“We called plenty of passes, but we never went deep and we never went to the intermediate zones,” Donahue said. “We had several intermediate passes called, but the quarterback checked back down to the underneath stuff because he was going to get sacked if he didn’t.”

The Bruins play Oregon State Saturday at the Rose Bowl. OSU is 3-2, its best start since 1970, and Donahue said the Beavers are better than at any time that he can remember.

That’s not saying much.

Oregon State hasn’t had a winning season since 1970, when it was 6-5, and has won as many as 4 games only once since 1971.

“I’m not really surprised at how good they look,” Donahue said. “You know, they looked pretty good last year.”

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Oregon State was 2-9 last season, including a 52-17 loss to UCLA.

Alfredo Velasco was among those most surprised when he missed a 40-yard field-goal attempt in the third quarter against Washington.

In 16 games as the Bruins’ regular kicker, Velasco had not missed from inside 44 yards, making good on 23 straight attempts.

“I really don’t know what happened,” he said. “I was shocked.”

After losing a fumble that led to the touchdown that gave Washington a 17-10 third-quarter lead, tailback Eric Ball carried only two more times before giving way to freshman Shawn Wills.

“I honestly feel in my heart that Shawn Wills has been a little more ball-secure,” Donahue told reporters after the game. “I wanted what I thought was our securest ballhandler in there.”

Monday, Donahue said Ball was tired after carrying 21 times for 107 yards. Ball carried once in the fourth quarter--for no gain.


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