Cowan not sure just yet

Times Staff Writer

The fate of UCLA’s wobbling football team may now hinge on whether quarterback Patrick Cowan’s right knee heals in time for the Oct. 20 game against California.

On Tuesday Cowan was unable -- or maybe it was unwilling -- to say whether he’d be ready to go in place of injured starter Ben Olson.

Asked whether he’d have the opportunity to play, Cowan responded, “Good question. Will I be given the opportunity to play? I feel that if I’m able to play, I feel I will be given the opportunity to play.”

Such is the chaotic state of the Bruins’ quarterback situation -- now reduced to waiting on a player with a partially torn medial collateral ligament while trying to bring other less experienced backups up to speed.


McLeod Bethel-Thompson, the non-scholarship player who was sent in when Olson sustained an injury to his left knee Saturday against Notre Dame, is still in the mix. Osaar Rasshan has made a boomerang journey, from quarterback to wide receiver and back. And freshman Chris Forcier was promoted from a leading role on the scout team to auditioning for time in the spotlight.

“We’re trying to do Plan A, B, C and D,” Coach Karl Dorrell said.

Cowan was limited to individual workouts during practice Tuesday.

“He’s not going to do much this week,” Dorrell said. “We’re going to try to get him to heal and not put him in any team or seven-on-seven [drills]. We’re just trying to get him where he can be as physically ready to play as he can.”


Cowan was unwilling to predict those chances.

“I’m not going to give a straight answer,” Cowan said. “I’m not sure yet.”

Olson underwent arthroscopic surgery Tuesday, and it revealed no cartilage damage in his injured knee. Still, he is expected to miss three to four weeks because of a partially torn lateral collateral ligament.

Beyond Cowan, Dorrell’s fallback positions involve risk -- whether it’s Bethel-Thompson, Rasshan or Forcier. All three got serious looks during practice Tuesday.


“They can know a portion of the things we can do, but I don’t know if two weeks is enough time to learn everything we want to do,” Dorrell said.

It may be that UCLA will use more than one quarterback against Cal, even if there are no additional injuries.

Rasshan is pleased to be back at quarterback. Asked which he liked better, throwing the ball or catching it, he replied, “Throwing it, for sure.”

Rasshan moved to wide receiver this summer, but his heart, it seems, is at quarterback.


“I definitely would like to stay at quarterback, but I think that’s the head man’s decision,” Rasshan said. “I believe ultimately it will come down to sitting down and talking to the coach.”

The Bruins are getting thinner at linebacker, as well.

Starter Reggie Carter had arthroscopic surgery Tuesday to remove a piece of cartilage from his right knee. Asked if Carter would be ready for the Cal game, Dorrell said, “Fingers are crossed.”

Reserve linebackers Shawn Oatis and John Hale suffered concussions against Notre Dame on Saturday. Oatis also has a fracture on the outside of a vertebra, though Dorrell said it did not threaten the spinal cord.