Rose Bowl Winners Are Back to See If UCLA Is Still UCLA

Times Staff Writer

Is UCLA as bad as its first two games would indicate, or Coach Terry Donahue has suggested?

A national television audience will see for itself tonight, when the struggling Bruins (1-1) play fifth-ranked Michigan (0-1) at the Rose Bowl.

Many believed that Michigan was the country’s No. 1 team until the Wolverines--22-14 winners over USC last January in the Rose Bowl game--lost last week to Notre Dame, 24-19, as Raghib (Rocket) Ismail of the Irish returned two second-half kickoffs for touchdowns.

Some still do.

Notre Dame accomplished almost nothing offensively against the Wolverines, producing only three gains of more than 10 yards and only 226 total yards. Its drive to its only offensive touchdown covered all of 24 yards.

So, Michigan may still wind up as the national champion.


“UCLA’s UCLA,” Michigan Coach Bo Schembechler said.

By that, he meant that UCLA has too much talent not to right itself this season.


In its first two games, though, UCLA has been B-A-D.

Tennessee, a 15-point underdog, thrashed the Bruins in their opener, 24-6. A 20 1/2-point underdog, San Diego State, had them on the ropes last week before a late drive enabled the Bruins to escape with an unimpressive 28-25 victory and avert their first 0-2 start since 1971, when they lost their first four games and wound up 2-7-1.

UCLA has a chance tonight, Donahue said, to “kind of step forward and show its colors.”

If Michigan has its way, those colors will be black and blue.

The Wolverines were expected to generate one of the country’s strongest rushing attacks--tailback Tony Boles ran for 1,408 yards last season, and his backup, Leroy Hoard, was the most valuable player in the Rose Bowl--but against Notre Dame, Michigan ran for only 94 yards. Its mammoth offensive line, which averages 295 pounds from tackle to tackle, wasn’t quick enough to stay with the Irish.

“I would never have guessed that we could block that badly,” Schembechler said.

Schembechler was encouraged by the play of backup quarterback Elvis Grbac, a 6-foot-5 freshman who will start tonight. Grbac replaced injured starter Michael Taylor in the third quarter and rallied the Wolverines, setting a school percentage record by completing 17 of 21 passes for 134 yards and two touchdowns.

Bo, though, knows football, and he believes that establishing a running game is essential.

“I don’t think you can win in football with passing alone,” he said Sunday on his weekly television show. “No matter how well we pass, that’s not going to satisfy me until we can punch holes in the defense and run. And we’re going to do that before the season is over. I promise you that.”

The punching may start tonight.

Donahue took Schembechler’s threat personally. It probably wasn’t meant that way, but for Donahue to think so was understandable.

Not only have the Bruin defenders played poorly, Donahue said, but “we’re not happy with our potential as a defensive team.”

Is there no hope?

“I’m not trying to poor-boy anybody, but we haven’t looked good,” Donahue said. “We are not a good-looking defensive team. Our intensity level isn’t very good. We don’t have a lot of team speed.”

Tennessee ran for 247 yards against the Bruins, who have allowed almost 200 yards a game on the ground and five yards per rushing attempt. Last season, UCLA gave up only 99.5 yards a game on the ground and only 2.7 yards an attempt.

“We have not played up to a level of intensity or efficiency that would allow us to play with Michigan,” Donahue said.

Against San Diego State, UCLA moved the ball consistently with freshman quarterback Bret Johnson, who has completed 59.4% of his passes for 515 yards and two touchdowns. But San Diego State is not Michigan, which is as strong defensively as any team in the country, Donahue said.

Against Tennessee, UCLA produced only a meaningless fourth-quarter touchdown after falling behind, 24-0. Its running attack, expected to be its major strength, has produced only 3.2 yards an attempt.

Maybe the Bruins are that bad.

“We obviously have a long, long way to go,” Donahue said.

Bruin Notes

Tailback Shawn Wills is expected to play. Wills, who carried only three times for 26 yards against San Diego State before leaving the game with a sprained right ankle, has yet to start in 14 games at UCLA but has averaged 6.5 yards a carry. . . . Randy Beverly, who broke a toe last month in a scrimmage, will make his first start, replacing walk-on Michael Williams at cornerback . . . Nose tackle Siitupe Tuala is listed as questionable with a sprained knee.

UCLA tight end Charles Arbuckle, a preseason All-American, made his season debut against San Diego State after missing the opener against Tennessee with an ankle injury. Maybe he shouldn’t have bothered. He was “miserable,” Coach Terry Donahue said. “He played very, very poorly.” Arbuckle is expected to play tonight. . . . Donahue said the performance last week of Michigan quarterback Elvis Grbac was “absolutely marvelous. He looked so poised.”

Michigan will be without four offensive starters. Quarterback Michael Taylor has a badly bruised back, fullback Jarrod Bunch injured a knee last week, guard Dean Dingman lost 30 pounds while battling strep throat and guard Marc Ramirez has an undetermined illness. . . . Backup center Matt Elliott will move to left guard, and freshman Joe Cocozzo will start at right guard. The Wolverines’ starting offensive line will include two freshmen, two sophomores and a junior. . . . Said Michigan Coach Bo Schembechler of the UCLA defense: “There’s a lot of talent there, and a lot of mobility. It just hasn’t jelled.”

A crowd of about 72,000 is expected. . . . A free shuttle bus will transport fans to the Rose Bowl from a parking lot just west of Fair Oaks Avenue between Holly and Walnut streets in Pasadena. . . . UCLA, a 5 1/2-point underdog, has won five straight games against Big Ten opponents--including Rose Bowl game victories over Michigan in 1983, Illinois in 1984 and Iowa in 1986--since losing to Michigan in the 1981 Bluebonnet Bowl, 33-14.

UCLA, which was 0-5 against Michigan at the time, beat the Wolverines twice with its 1982 team, overcoming a 21-0 deficit to win at Ann Arbor, Mich., 31-27, and then outscoring the Wolverines again in the 1983 Rose Bowl game, 24-14. The 1982 team, which was 10-1-1, might have been UCLA’s best in 13 seasons under Donahue. . . . UCLA and Michigan are scheduled to meet again next Sept. 22 at Ann Arbor.