Breazell is in ‘look-but-don’t-touch’ mode

Times Staff Writer

Brandon Breazell still wears a red jersey used as a don’t-hit-him warning to teammates in practice. Superstitions, it seems, linger longer than the pain for the UCLA receiver.

“I told coach, every time I wear the red jersey something good happens,” said Breazell, who had extensive dental surgery the last three weeks after being clobbered in the mouth during the Brigham Young game.

It may also come in handy as a reminder to get the ball in his hands.

Breazell, a senior, has demonstrated a knack for lighting-bolt plays, two of which struck during UCLA’s 40-14 victory over Oregon State on Saturday. Breazell had touchdown receptions of 69 and 30 yards.

Of his 11 touchdown receptions in his UCLA career, seven are of at least 23 yards. Add to that a 57-yard pass completion he threw to set up a touchdown against Washington two weeks ago, and it becomes an easy equation. The more Breazell has the ball, the more likely the Bruins are to score.


The trick is pulling that off in an offensive scheme that appears geared to spreading the ball around.

“Brandon is playing very well and we want him to be a part of what we’re doing,” offensive coordinator Jay Norvell said. “But there is no question we can find ways to get him the ball.”

Still, Breazell did not touch the ball during the first half against Oregon State. In the fourth quarter, he turned a short screen into a 69-yard touchdown play to give UCLA a 19-14 lead. He later caught a 30-yard touchdown pass from Ben Olson.

Breazell leads the Bruins with 22 receptions and is averaging 18 yards a catch.

“An athlete and competitor like myself always wants the ball,” Breazell said. “I want the ball every play. But I’m a team player, so I want my teammates to make plays so I’m able to congratulate them.”

Breazell, who had three teeth replaced and five root canals since being leveled by teammate Logan Paulsen during the Brigham Young game, said he does not have any pain this week.

“That concerns me,” Coach Karl Dorrell said. “The last couple games when he has had a sore mouth, he has played his butt off.”

Breazell flashed a smile, showing his new teeth, and said, “Yeah, some of the coaches keep telling me I need some kind of pain.”

It seems less and less likely that tailback Chris Markey will be available Saturday when the Bruins play Notre Dame.

Markey, who gained 1,107 yards last season, sat out a second consecutive day of practice with what is being called a turf toe. Dorrell said it was “less than 50-50" that Markey would play.

That will likely put more of the load on Kahlil Bell, though Dorrell said Chane Moline and Christian Ramirez could pick up much of the slack in case Markey is unavailable.

“I’m preparing myself to be ready to play 60 minutes,” said Bell, who leads the Bruins with 522 yards rushing. “So if Chris can go, that’s great. We both got our own attributes that help this team. If he can’t, I got to be ready to go and some of the guys behind us have to be ready to step up.”

Defensive end Nikola Dragovic was limited in practice because of a groin injury and will likely undergo an MRI exam next week, an open week for the Bruins. Dorrell did not rule out Dragovic for the Notre Dame game.

Guard Shannon Tevaga (knee) will likely play Saturday and receiver Marcus Everett (ankle) may be ready to go, Dorrell said.