Ware Loves to Hate USC

Times Staff Writer

UCLA cornerback Matt Ware remembers walking onto the Coliseum field for his first USC-UCLA game in 2001 and being overcome with this strange feeling. It wasn't excitement, nervousness or anticipation.

"It was hatred," Ware said. "I grew up in this rivalry. Both my parents [Bernard and Julie] went to UCLA, so I really have no choice but to feel the way I do. I hate them, especially this week. I have friends there, but I definitely can't talk to anybody from USC this week."

Ware is a junior now, and he'll have his third shot at USC when the teams meet Saturday in the Coliseum. The first two rivalry games didn't go too well -- USC defeated UCLA, 27-0, in 2001, and 52-21 last season -- and the second-ranked Trojans are 22-point favorites this week.

Ware, who will have his hands full dealing with USC's talented receiver tandem of Mike Williams and Keary Colbert, won't have any difficulty getting motivated for the game.

"Have you ever felt hate before?" Ware said. "Multiply that by 20 -- that's how I feel about USC. Something just rises up in your body when you play them. You can feel it.

"I really can't explain it, but the first time I walked onto the field in the Coliseum my freshman year, it just overcame me. You want to put everything on the line. There's no quit. There's no quit any other time, but it's on a different level."


Ware did a superb job of shutting down Washington receiver Reggie Williams in UCLA's 46-16 victory over the Huskies on Oct. 4, but he won't be assigned exclusively to Mike Williams, USC's 6-foot-5, 230-pound senior, who has caught 69 passes for 986 yards and 12 touchdowns this season.

With the speedy Colbert, a 6-2, 210-pound senior, as the other receiver, Ware probably will remain on the right side and cover who lines up opposite him. Cornerback Matt Clark will remain on the left side and match up with the other receiver.

"They have a good tandem of receivers," UCLA Coach Karl Dorrell said. "I don't think we can waste our time worrying about stopping any one of them. We're just going to try to do our regular defense and do the things necessary to slow them down."


Center Robert Chai, who suffered a sprained left knee in Saturday's loss to Oregon, did not practice again Wednesday, but he went through some individual drills and remains probable for the USC game.... Tight end Marcedes Lewis (concussion) was held out of contact drills Wednesday and is expected to play Saturday....There will be a bonfire and rally beginning at 7 tonight at UCLA's Wilson Plaza, in front of the student activities center.

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