Ware Is Expected to Play Saturday
After losing several key players in recent weeks, UCLA received good news on the injury front: Junior cornerback Matt Ware, who has missed three games because of a high ankle sprain, practiced Tuesday and is expected to play Saturday at Washington State.
There was some concern that Ware, the Bruins’ top cover man, would be out for the season, but Ware was able to jog over the weekend and participate in all of Tuesday’s drills. Coach Karl Dorrell said Ware probably wouldn’t start against the Cougars, but he will play as much as his left ankle will allow him.
“It felt a lot better than I thought it would,” said Ware, who practiced in an ankle brace. “I don’t know how much I’ll be able to play, but I didn’t think I could do all the things I did today.
“Once we got into seven-on-seven drills, I forgot I had a sprained ankle. I felt it, but it wasn’t like I was limping. I was able to run pretty good, and it didn’t get fatigued. It loosened up, and I went from there.”
Washington State, behind senior quarterback Matt Kegel, is ranked first in the Pacific 10 Conference and 13th nationally in passing, with an average of 300.6 yards a game, and the Cougars like to use a spread offense, sometimes with four receivers. So whatever depth UCLA can add to the secondary, the better.
An MRI exam showed that Kegel, who has almost as many yards passing (2,522) as UCLA has total yards (2,684), suffered a partial tear of the medial collateral ligament in his right knee Saturday against USC.
Kegel, a 6-foot-5, 227-pound senior who has completed 186 of 334 passes with 17 touchdowns and 10 interceptions, did not practice Tuesday, but Cougar Coach Bill Doba is “planning on Kegel playing” against the Bruins.
Kegel sat out a series after injuring the knee against USC but returned and finished with 291 yards passing on 28 of 47 attempts..
“It’s one of those injuries you can tape and brace,” Doba said. “We’ll see how he warms up Wednesday.... He’s a gutsy kid. He’s waited four years for this opportunity; I think you’d have to cut his leg off to get him out of there.”
After Saturday’s 21-14 loss to Stanford, a game in which UCLA quarterback Matt Moore was sacked eight times, the Bruins practiced in shells -- shoulder pads and shorts or sweatpants -- the first time they didn’t have full contact drills on a Tuesday.
“We’re going to focus in on details like we’ve done all year, but not do as much physical work,” Dorrell said. “The physical part is not what’s needed right now, it’s mental preparation.”
X-rays on defensive end Mat Ball’s strained back were negative, but Ball was unable to practice. Dorrell said Ball “should be available” Saturday, but senior David Tautofi will likely start.... Tailback Tyler Ebell was suffering flu-like symptoms and didn’t practice.... Craig Bragg is the first player in school history to catch at least 50 passes in two seasons. Bragg has 50 receptions for 777 yards and three touchdowns this season after catching 55 passes for 889 yards and eight touchdowns as a sophomore last season.