Dorrell Expects to End Drought

Times Staff Writer

From 1983 to 1991, UCLA made eight bowl appearances and won every game.

Since then, however, the Bruins have had little postseason success, and Coach Karl Dorrell wants to change that.

“What’s different is our attitude going into this game,” said Dorrell about the 17th-ranked Bruins, who will play Northwestern in the Sun Bowl on Dec. 30. “It’s so much different than it was before. We’ve accomplished a lot, and we feel good about the progress that we’ve made in the program.”


The Bruins are 2-6 in bowl games since 1991, including 0-2 under Dorrell.

Unlike last year, when his goal was to squeeze in multiple practices before UCLA’s appearance in the Las Vegas Bowl, Dorrell has reduced the number of workouts for the Bruins this postseason.

“It really depends on what time of year the game is,” said Dorrell, whose team lost to Wyoming on Dec. 23 in Las Vegas last year. “Remember, we played a game in December when there were a lot of teams that haven’t played since the middle of November.”

Northwestern (7-4), which last played Nov. 19 in a 38-21 victory over Illinois, falls under that category.

It adds to the challenge for the Bruins, looking to end the year strong after losing two of their final three regular-season games, including a 66-19 loss to USC on Dec. 3.

“Our team needs to get a lot better ... in a lot of areas,” Dorrell said. “It’s not just looking ahead to spring [practice]. There’s a lot of young players who will be here in spring who are going to benefit ... but we’re getting ready to play a game. We want to play well.”



There are 28 bowl games, and the Sun Bowl has the only traditional Pacific 10 versus Big 10 conference matchup.

“I think that it’s pretty cool that my final game is against a team from a respected conference,” UCLA senior quarterback Drew Olson said.

“That adds more excitement to the game. Northwestern won seven games in the Big 10, and any time you can do that, you’ve had a good year. They almost beat Penn State this year. We know that we’re playing a good team.”

The Sun Bowl will be a matchup between two strong offenses and two weak defenses.

UCLA has the seventh-best scoring average (38.09 points) in the nation and the 24th-ranked offense (429 yards per game). Northwestern has the eighth-best offense (492.73) and is averaging 31.82 points per game.

The Wildcats’ defense ranks last among Division I-A schools, giving up 482.91 yards per game. UCLA’s defense ranks 111th, giving up 457.55 yards per game.


Center Robert Chai, who suffered a knee injury in practice Saturday, watched Sunday’s workout from crutches. Redshirt freshman Aaron Meyer worked with the first-team offense and as a precautionary measure, defensive lineman Nathaniel Skaggs also played some center on Sunday.



Bowled over

UCLA, which plays Northwestern in the Sun Bowl on Dec. 30, is 0-2 in bowl games under Coach Karl Dorrell:

*--* DATE OPPONENT, RESULT Dec. 23, 2004 Wyoming, L 24-21 Dec. 30, 2003 Fresno State, L 17-9