Olson’s Day Is Short, Painful

Times Staff Writers

UCLA quarterback Ben Olson did not last long against Arizona on Saturday. The 23-year old sophomore was knocked out of the game with 6 minutes 47 seconds remaining in the first quarter when his left leg was rolled on after a pass play.

“It’s a completely different feeling than I ever had,” said Olson, who had completed three of four passes for 26 yards before his knee was injured. .

“I just hope that I don’t have surgery, but I’m pretty down right now. It was just an offensive lineman rolling over the pile, but it hurt a lot.”


Olson was replaced by Patrick Cowan, whom he beat out in training camp, and UCLA went on to a 27-7 victory over Arizona at the Rose Bowl. Olson, who watched the second half on crutches, is expected to undergo an MRI examination on Monday.

“It’s unfortunate,” said Olson, who had waited nearly five years to become a college starter after spending a redshirt season at Brigham Young, two years on a Mormon mission and one season as a backup at UCLA.

“I worked very hard to get where I am. ... I don’t know, stuff just keeps happening,” Olson said. “I don’t think that I’ll be out for the season. I think I’ll be back.”

Coach Karl Dorrell also was optimistic. “We don’t think it’s a major injury, but we’ll have to get the MRI to get the status of everything,” he said.


Dorrell called freshman cornerback Alterraun Verner “the little old man.”

That’s a joke. Verner doesn’t turn 18 until December. He is the youngest Bruin, but already Verner has returned two interceptions for touchdowns. His second came with 4:19 left Saturday.


Verner is little -- 5 feet 10 and 161 pounds -- so Dorrell is right about that.

Verner, who played at Lakewood Mayfair High, is also confident. He stepped in front of Wildcats receiver Michael Thomas when Thomas thought he had a touchdown. But Verner got it -- the ball and the touchdown after 89 yards of spirited running.

“I just made it look like Thomas was open,” Verner said. “And the quarterback bit. I did it with my eyes and my body language. As soon as I caught the ball I knew I had the touchdown.”

Like UCLA, the Wildcats had been forced to use their No. 2 quarterback after starter Willie Tuitama suffered a concussion, so it was senior Adam Austin who Verner said he fooled.

In his fifth UCLA game, Verner is already one of only six Bruins -- Spencer Havner, Blanchard Montgomery, Brian Baggott, Jerry Robinson and John Brown are the others -- to have returned interceptions for touchdowns twice in one season.

His runback against Arizona was the longest since Abdul McCullough had a 98-yard return against Arizona State 12 years ago. And Verner’s return tied for the longest by an Arizona opponent, matching Brigham Young’s Wayne Soffe in 1936.

“I’m not looking at the records,” Verner said. “I’m just looking at the ball.”


UCLA linebacker Christian Taylor suffered a sprained left ankle and did not play in the second half. Taylor said he plans on playing next week at Oregon.

“I had taped the ankle and was ready to go out there in the second half,” Taylor said. “But I really couldn’t put any weight on it.” ... Terrence Austin, a freshman receiver and punt returner, suffered a quadriceps injury and did not play in the fourth quarter.... Cornerback Trey Brown led UCLA in tackles with eight, including six solo. Safeties Chris Horton and Dennis Keyes finished with seven and six tackles.



1. Stop or go. UCLA’s defense shut down Arizona’s ground attack, limiting the Wildcats to minus-13 yards. Bruins middle linebacker Christian Taylor and his backup, Kyle Bosworth, combined to make 10 tackles, including five solo.

2. Red zone or dead zone. Arizona reached inside UCLA’s 20-yard line twice, with the Wildcats scoring one touchdown. The Bruins lead the Pacific 10 Conference in red zone defense, having given up three touchdowns in the six times an opponent has been inside the 20.

3. Get out of the gate. UCLA continued its streak of scoring first when a Patrick Cowan touchdown pass to Marcus Everett gave the Bruins an early lead for the fifth consecutive game. For Arizona, which trailed, 14-7, after two quarters, it was the fifth time in six games the Wildcats trailed at halftime.