He was the key to UCLA's new 4-3 defense, an solid anchor at middle linebacker to stop the run and a swift attacker at defensive end to foil the pass.
But now Donnie Edwards will be missing out of the lineup for at least a month as a result of a compression fracture of a vertebra.
"He's our best defensive player, certainly in the front part of our defense," Coach Terry Donahue said.
Donahue says the Bruins will stick to the 4-3 defense, despite Edwards' absence. Linebacker Brian Willmer will replace him.
Starting quarterback Ryan Fien, who sat out last Saturday's game because of a concussion, will get his job back this week against Washington State, according to Donahue, as long as none of the symptoms of the concussion return. Freshman Cade McNown will return to his backup role. . . . Edwards' absence further weakens a defense already soft at the end position. Danjuan Magee sat out Saturday's game because of a knee injury suffered last week in practice. His replacement, Vae Tata, suffered a concussion in Saturday's game and his availability for this week is uncertain. Next on the depth chart is junior Jason Nevadomsky.