Bruins not sure how to deal with Jackson

Times Staff Writer

UCLA punter Aaron Perez will look upfield Saturday and see who is considered the most dangerous return man in college football: California’s DeSean Jackson.

Still, the Bruins’ special teams work this week hasn’t been overly stressing Jackson’s presence on the field.

“We’ll play it by ear and do whatever the coaches think is necessary,” Perez said. “We’re confident in our coverage. People have tried kicking away from him, they’ve tried kicking straight to him.”

And how has the kicking straight at Jackson worked out?

“Usually not very good,” Perez said.

Jackson is averaging 11.9 yards a return, but he has been able to return only nine kicks this season. He returned one 77 yards for a touchdown against Tennessee. Jackson returned a punt 72 yards for a touchdown against the Bruins last season.

“We need to know where he is,” Coach Karl Dorrell said. “Sometimes we’ll need to place the ball not exactly where he is, make him work for it.”


Opponents are averaging 7.1 yards a punt return against UCLA this season. Perez is averaging 42.9 yards a kick, the third-best average in the Pacific 10 Conference.

Whether the Bruins choose to play keep-away from Jackson on punts is to be seen.

“You’d love to do all that, but sometimes you can’t,” said assistant coach Gary DeLoach, who handles the Bruins’ special teams. “Things have to be right. I’ve seen teams kick away from a guy, but they kick it out of bounds for five yards. So what have you accomplished then?”

Quarterback Patrick Cowan practiced for the second day in a row, showing no ill effects, though Dorrell was unwilling to name him the starter for Saturday. Cowan is returning from a torn ligament in his right knee.

“Pat looked good, there were no setbacks with him,” Dorrell said.

Asked if Cowan would start, Dorrell said, “We’ll see.”

Asked who would be next in line, Dorrell said, “We’ll see.”

The Bruins have been exploring other quarterback options, with McLeod Bethel-Thompson, a non-scholarship player, freshman Chris Forcier and Osaar Rasshan, who has been playing wide receiver.

Tailback Chris Markey, who is bothered by a turf toe on his right foot, was able to do a little more work in practice Tuesday. Still, Dorrell was unsure if Markey would play this week.

Markey, who has 404 yards rushing, was more optimistic.

“I have no choice,” Markey said. “I’m going to go Saturday, I have to go Saturday. It’s just a matter of me getting out here and getting some work done.

“When I’m running straight ahead, it’s fine. When I’m cutting and planting and changing directions, it hurts more.”

Linebacker Reggie Carter, coming off arthroscopic knee surgery, went through drills Wednesday and is expected to play this week. . . . Saturday’s game is a sellout and Pasadena police are suggesting fans arrive early. General parking lots will open at 7:30 a.m. and a free shuttle service is available at 100 W. Walnut Street in Pasadena.