In recent weeks, Coach Karl Dorrell has moved freshman guard Shannon Tevaga and redshirt freshman cornerback Trey Brown into the starting lineup.
The moves sent a message that the Bruins were not reluctant to play younger players, but Dorrell’s decisions cost redshirt juniors Robert Cleary and Marcus Cassel their starting jobs.
“It is not something that you’re particularly happy about when it happens,” said Cleary, who started the first six games.
“But you do whatever you can to help the team. I’m still getting playing time. I just have to do the best that I can when my rotation comes up.”
Cleary was a victim of a slump that UCLA’s running game went through midway through the season. With teams stacking the line of scrimmage, the Bruins lost some of their effectiveness after a strong start and Cleary was replaced. Tevaga was inserted into the lineup at strong-side guard three weeks ago, Steven Vieira moving over to the weak side, where Cleary had been starting. Cleary now is backing up Tevaga.
For Cassel, the move wasn’t as subtle. After getting beat for touchdowns and being replaced in the second halves of consecutive games, Cassel was benched in last week’s victory over Stanford.
“I made some mistakes in the games, and I guess they just wanted to try somebody new at the position,” Cassel said. “People are going to make mistakes. I know the coaches know that. I just have to get better and keep working on my technique. You don’t necessarily have to be a starter to get better. That’s the approach that I’m taking until I get back in there.”
The decision on center Mike McCloskey, who did not practice all week because of post-concussion symptoms, will be made at game time. If McCloskey does not play, sophomore Robert Chai will start.
Punter Chris Kluwe has been named as one of 10 semifinalists for the Ray Guy Award, recognizing the nation’s top collegiate punter. Kluwe is averaging 42.49 yards on 37 kicks with 13 inside the 20-yard line.... The Heisman Trophy will be at the Rose Bowl today, on display along with an interactive exhibit at Lot H on the east side of the stadium, starting at 9:30 a.m.