Bruins lose two important players early
PULLMAN, Wash. -- UCLA’s offense was left with significant handicaps early in Saturday’s 27-7 Pacific 10 Conference loss to Washington State.
Kahlil Bell, the Bruins’ leading rusher, left midway though the first quarter with what was called a sprained right knee. Brandon Breazell, the team’s leading receiver, followed him to the locker room in the second quarter with bruised ribs.
“It didn’t help us losing a couple of big playmakers,” Coach Karl Dorrell said. “Those are important pieces to our puzzle.”
Bell was injured on the Bruins’ second possession. He left the game, came back wearing a sleeve on his right knee and was re-injured on his first carry.
“It felt fine when I went out there the second time,” Bell said. “I don’t know what happened. I’ll have to watch the film to see what happened.”
Bell is expected to have an MRI exam today.
Breazell was injured after being leveled by Washington State free safety Xavier Hicks.
“They said nothing was broken, but it feels like it is,” Breazell said after an examination that included X-rays.
The Bruins were called for five pass-interference penalties, two on a drive that resulted in a Washington State field goal. Another Cougars’ field goal drive was also aided by a pass-interference call.
“There was a little bit of pushing going both ways,” said UCLA cornerback Michael Norris, who was called twice for pass interference. “The flags came five to 10 seconds after the play was over with. That might present a little bit of cloudiness.
“Me personally, I don’t feel they were good calls. But that’s not my job. That’s what they do for a living, you have to go with it.”
Washington State’s Andrew Roxas, a 6-foot-1, 295-pound freshman from Sun Valley, had never played a snap at center. Not in Pee-Wee football, not at La Canada-Flintridge St. Francis High, where he was a three-time Mission League performer as an offensive tackle.
Then Roxas got his first college start against UCLA -- at center.
“He worked at it all this week and I think we maybe had one bad snap,” Cougars Coach Bill Doba said. “That’s a credit to that kid. It took a lot of courage. He got the ball back in shotguns, everything else. He did a nice job.”
Starting center Kenny Alfred, who suffered from dizziness in practice, was a late scratch.
Roxas said he worked at center two days during practice last week, but when he found out he was going to start Friday, “I started getting some butterflies. But they were butterflies of excitement when it got down to it.”
Running back Kevin McCall said he was amazed seeing Roxas handle every snap and every assignment with aplomb.
“I tip my hat to him,” McCall said. “He came in as a young man with not much experience, but he proved he was the man today.”
Offensive line coach George Yarno said he didn’t know Roxas had never played center in a game before -- and he didn’t care.
“The younger guys all learn how to snap a football,” Yarno said. “We just want to put the five best on the field and Roxas is our sixth guy. If anyone gets hurt, he is the first one in the game and he is our guard or center.”
UCLA kicker Kai Forbath missed a 43-yard field-goal attempt in the second quarter, ending his streak of consecutive field goals at 10. . . . UCLA linebacker Josh Edwards suffered a toe injury during the game. . . . Washington State has scored in 269 straight games, the second-longest active streak among major colleges and the fifth-longest of all time. The Cougars have scored in 250 consecutive Pac-10 games.