Despite recent losses, all is not lost for the Bruins
Their coach’s future is cloudy. Their recent performances have them sinking slowly in the Pacific 10 Conference standings. Their health has created a take-a-number policy in the training room.
Yet all is not lost for UCLA football players, merely the last two games.
There was plenty of rubble to pick through after a 34-27 loss to Arizona on Saturday, but a stiff upper lip was being portrayed by one of the team’s leaders.
Linebacker Christian Taylor was of a single thought -- Saturday’s game against Arizona State.
“We got one game ahead of us, Arizona State, that’s our only focus,” Taylor said calmly but sternly. “It’s not about anything but winning this football game.
“At this point, for me, there is nothing to be said. Enough talk. It’s all about, ‘Lets go play ball.’ . . . No one needs a rah-rah speech. It’s doesn’t work. If you’re not ready yourself, you’re not going to be ready. That’s all I want the guys to do this week, is to be ready to play football.”
That once-more-into-the-breach cry comes as concerns accumulate
Coach Karl Dorrell’s job appears to be on the line, with victories in the last three games -- against Arizona State, Oregon and USC -- perhaps the only way to earn his way back.
“Our players want to win regardless what’s being said about my status,” Dorrell said. “We can’t control any of those things that are being said. The only thing we can do is play better football and get ourselves a victory.
“What’s being said, I can’t do anything about that except to coach hard, and our staff to continue to coach hard and build on our improvement to get ourselves back in the win column.”
Coaching hard hasn’t worked the last two weeks. The Bruins have lost consecutive games to Arizona and Washington State, teams considered beneath them. Taylor described UCLA’s performance in the Arizona game as “disgusting.”
“It is really a testament of character when things like this happen to you,” Taylor said. “It’s easy to be up-tempo and upbeat, excited about the game and confident in yourself when you’re winning. But it’s a challenge and shows what character is all about when you get beat, when you don’t play your best ball.”
Whether the Bruins are capable of playing their best ball is to be seen. UCLA will be without its top two quarterbacks, Ben Olson (knee) and Patrick Cowan (collapsed lung, concussion), as well as several other key players.
Sophomore Osaar Rasshan, who put up 13 points in less than a half against Arizona, will start at quarterback. But the Bruins may be without their second-leading rusher, Chris Markey (ankle), and have already lost leading rusher Kahlil Bell (knee).
Rasshan waited two years to play quarterback at UCLA, then had the offense handed to him last Saturday. His thoughts about his upcoming start went unanswered Monday as UCLA officials refused to allow him to talk with the media despite several interview requests.
Dorrell said Cowan was traveling back from Arizona on Monday after tests confirmed a partially collapsed lung, but no further damage. How long Cowan will be sidelined is not known. . . . Olson will resume individual drills this week in hopes of returning for the Nov. 24 game against Oregon. . . . Defensive tackle Jess Ward (knee) will resume practice and could play Saturday. . . . Defensive tackle Brigham Harwell (knee) will increase his practice time this week.