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Dorrell bears brunt after loss

Times Staff Writer

Looking back at UCLA’s 34-27 loss to Washington State:

As expected: The hue and cry from Bruins fans after another loss to a team that seemed in the “beatable” column back in those whimsical preseason days when UCLA was a ranked team.

This has now become a one-issue season. Coach Karl Dorrell: Keep him or not?

Rewind

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Unexpected: Arizona students’ rushing the field after Saturday’s victory. Did they know UCLA was 5-4?

As for the game, walk-on tailback Craig Shepard was forced into service because of injuries. Shepard gained 32 yards in eight carries. Maybe it won’t produce a “Rudy” script, but it had to make the hours spent on the scout team worthwhile.

Stepped up: Quarterback Osaar Rasshan spent two years cooling his cleats on the sideline. He moved to wide receiver last summer before being rushed back to quarterback last month.

When Patrick Cowan suffered a concussion -- he was later taken to the hospital with a collapsed lung, then released -- Rasshan finally got a chance to take a snap in a game. He produced 13 unanswered points that nearly brought the Bruins back from a 34-14 deficit.

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Matthew Slater returned a kickoff 100 yards, his second touchdown return this season. Kai Forbath was two for two on field goals. Aaron Perez put four punts inside the 10-yard line. Special teams were not the problem.

Stepped back: De-fense, de-fense, de-fense.

The Bruins had kept a toehold in the Pacific 10 Conference race on the play of their defense, which until the Washington State game Oct. 27 had been impressive. Arizona, behind quarterback Willie Tuitama, came up with big plays to put the Bruins in a hole they could not dig out of in the fourth quarter.

Coach’s quote: Dorrell focused on the Bruins’ strong finish behind Rasshan: “He proved to be able to handle much more than we anticipated. He did things we asked him to do in the game plan and when things weren’t there, he was able to utilize his feet.”

Injuries: Cowan was released early Sunday after a series of tests, but doctors would not let him fly home. He remained in Arizona with family members and is expected to be driven back to Los Angeles today.

Chris Markey suffered a sprained ankle and Christian Ramirez a concussion, leaving the Bruins thin at tailback. Markey is day-to-day. Ramirez is doubtful this week.

Tight end Logan Paulsen was limping after the game with a right ankle injury. Tight end Scott Glicksberg left the game with a dislocated right shoulder.

Looking ahead to the game vs. Arizona State (Saturday, Channel 7, 12:30 p.m., Rose Bowl):

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Fast forward

First look: You’d like Arizona State’s chances better if Sun Devils Coach Dennis Erickson’s job was on the line. That certainly seems to work when playing the Bruins.

Washington State’s Bill Doba was dangling by a thread, then the Bruins threw him a rope. All that seemed left for Arizona’s Mike Stoops was to put the house on the market and find some boxes for packing. The Bruins came to town and tied up escrow.

So if Arizona State Athletic Director Lisa Love is smart, she’ll start talking about how Erickson might not be the right fit after the Sun Devils suffered their first loss of the season against Oregon on Saturday.

The Bruins will stay with Rasshan; at least that’s the plan going into the game. He was effective against an Arizona team unprepared for his mobility. The Sun Devils will have a week to study film.

Topic of the week: Could have been the quarterbacks. Could have been the tailbacks. Could have been the last-chance-to-save-the-season Bruins jingoism. But it will be Dorrell, Dorrell, Dorrell.

Five seasons of UCLA meandering has taken the discussion about his future from insignificant website operators to serious Bruins alumni. That kind of talk carries more weight than Internet chatter.

Then again, if the Bruins win three games, they win the Pac-10 title. If the Bruins win three games, they go to the Rose Bowl. If the Bruins win three games, Dorrell gets to stay.

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Three games.

UCLA’s record in its final three regular-season games during Dorrell’s career: 5-7.

chris.foster@latimes.com


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