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Kluwe Provides a Solid Footing

Times Staff Writer

UCLA senior Chris Kluwe is among 10 semifinalists for the Ray Guy Award, given to the nation’s top punter.

He leads the Pacific 10 Conference with an average of 43.7 yards a punt and is the main reason the Bruins lead the country in net punting with a 42.3-yard average. Kluwe has 17 kicks inside the 20-yard line and only seven touchbacks heading into today’s game at Oregon.

“He’s been great,” Coach Karl Dorrell said. “He’s done a great job with the hang time on his kicks ... and our gunners have done a good job covering opposing kick returners.”

Since recovering from an early season ankle sprain, Kluwe has averaged 45.7 on 35 punts over his last six games. For the season, he has had only 14 of his 44 punts returned -- for an average of 4.4 yards.

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“Our special teams, except for the opening kickoff of our last game” -- Tab Perry’s fumble against Washington State -- have “played very well the last five weeks,” Dorrell said. “Those things have been consistent.”

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Oregon quarterback Kellen Clemens is the Pac-10 leader in total offense, averaging 271.6 yards a game.

Clemens is a solid passer, having completed 62.1% of his passes for more than over 2,000 yards.

He’s also a talented runner who rushed for three touchdowns in an early-season game against Washington State.

“We’ve played against a couple of mobile quarterbacks this season and did a good job of containing them,” UCLA linebacker Justin London said. “We just hope that we can keep our coverage tight and force him into running. We want him to run. Our goal is to rally to the football and put a lot of helmets on the ballcarrier. We didn’t do that too well last week.”

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Oregon has several key players nursing injuries, including tight end Tim Day, who has a bruised calf and sore Achilles’ tendon; wide receiver Demetrius Williams, who has turf toe; and offensive lineman Robin Knebel, who has a sprained ankle.

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The Ducks’ Terrence Whitehead, a former Crenshaw High standout, needs 90 yards rushing to reach 1,000 for the season. His single-game best this season is 166 yards, against Washington State.


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