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COLLEGE FOOTBALL / DAILY REPORT : UCLA : Cook, Lawrence Star in Scrimmage

The UCLA football team scrimmaged for 29 plays Thursday, with quarterbacks getting plenty of passing work, largely because of a lack of available running backs.

The offense scored once, Wayne Cook throwing an eight-yard touchdown pass to Mike Nguyen. The defense countered with cornerback Teddy Lawrence intercepting a ball thrown by Ryan Fien toward Jim McElroy. Lawrence returned the ball 40 yards for a touchdown.

It was a sign that practice intensity was heating up at Spaulding Field. Four concussions among those wearing the red shirt of the injured was another sign.

“We’d been holding our own all week until today,” Coach Terry Donahue said. “Today, we had a bunch of guys get hurt in the morning and afternoon practices.”

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Shane Jasper, Anthony Jones, Mike Flanagan and Daron Washington suffered concussions, Jasper in the morning practice and the others in the afternoon.

No. 1 running back Sharmon Shah sat out the afternoon workout and scrimmage because of swelling in his right knee, which was surgically repaired last year. His backup, Derek Ayers, also sat because of tendinitis in his leg.

“There were some good things,” Donahue said of the scrimmage, in which defensive play made him happiest. “I thought (fullback) James Milliner made a couple of good runs, and Wayne Cook passed well under pressure. I thought Teddy Lawrence made a great play on that interception of Ryan’s ball.”

Joining the concussion cases and running backs on the sideline were receiver J.J. Stokes, who had a slight hip injury and said it was no real problem. Guard Matt Soenksen has a swollen knee and Grady Stretz a sprained ankle.

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Linebacker coach Tim Hundley had an unusual summer, spending nine days coaching an all-star team of college players in Japan. He stepped out of his usual role in doing so, losing a coin flip and thus becoming the offensive coordinator.

“They’re really dedicated,” he said of the Japanese players. “One night, about 10:30, we went back to the practice site and they were there watching film. We have dedicated players here (at UCLA), but I don’t think you’ll see them watching film at 10:30 at night.”

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Freshman McElroy is working against a stacked deck in trying to get playing time at wide receiver, where the Bruins have Stokes and Kevin Jordan, among others. But that doesn’t mean McElroy, from Washington High, is being overshadowed. “That freshman, No. 85, is really fast,” said Cook, after McElroy had gotten open for a 50-yard pass--which he dropped.

“Look, he is like any other freshman,” said Cook. “He has to learn the routes. Once he learns those, then he can concentrate more on catching the football.”


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