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Brink will be at it again

Times Staff Writer

There won’t be any UCLA players or coaches sad to see Washington State quarterback Alex Brink’s college eligibility expire.

The Cougars senior has led his team to two victories over UCLA, including last season’s 37-15 win in which he threw for 405 yards and three touchdowns.

“He’s a very accurate passer,” UCLA defensive coordinator DeWayne Walker said. “He picked us apart last year. It wasn’t because his receivers were running naked and open; he got the ball to them. He’s the type of kid that when he gets rolling, he’s very hard to stop.”

In 2004, Brink was a redshirt freshman who engineered a 27-17 victory over the Bruins, passing for 185 yards.

The following season in Pullman, the Bruins, undefeated and ranked 12th, rallied for a 44-41 overtime victory. Brink passed for 169 yards and two touchdowns and gained 45 yards rushing, including a four-yard touchdown.

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“He’s played a lot of games at Washington State, and he has a good arm,” Bruins strong safety Chris Horton said. “He’s mobile, and he reads defenses well. To me, that’s an all-around quarterback.”

The Cougars (2-5 overall, 0-4 in Pacific 10 Conference play) are likely to test the Bruins’ secondary today if statistics hold true. Washington State ranks 100th nationally in rushing offense, but Brink is 10th in yards passing, averaging 297 a game.

The Bruins have had some trouble with pass defense. Stanford passed for 348 yards, Brigham Young for 391, and Utah, using its second- and third-string quarterbacks, passed for 264.

Those problems seem to have been ironed out, as the Bruins’ defense has handled the last three quarterbacks in its path, including intercepting three Nate Longshore passes in a 30-21 victory over California last week.

Overall, the UCLA defense has improved dramatically the last four weeks, going from 69th nationally in total yards to 26th at 320.9 per game.

But Brink and the relentless Cougars passing attack have been a problem.

“He made all types of throws last season,” cornerback Trey Brown said. “He was throwing passes from behind his back, throwing balls while jumping, running, sitting back. He was making plays all over the place.”

Still, Horton said, “Last year was last year. I think we’re a much-improved defense. He’s going to get our best game.”

Washington State Coach Bill Doba has a 3-1 record against UCLA. Does he have a reason? “Not really, other than good luck,” Doba said. . . . Cougars wide receiver Brandon Gibson, who suffered a heel injury against Oregon, is expected to play. Running back Chris Ivory (concussion) and strong safety Alfonso Jackson (concussion) are questionable. Tackle Micah Hannam is out with a leg injury.

chris.foster@latimes.com


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