Defense gets drilled by Walker despite win

Times Staff Writer

This week has been an exercise in crime and punishment for the UCLA defense.

The crime was the Stanford game. The punishment?

“Coach [DeWayne] Walker has a drill for everything,” defensive end Bruce Davis said.

That seemed clear to the Bruins’ defensive players again Wednesday. Walker, UCLA’s defensive coordinator, continued to lean on them for the poor tackling performance in the 45-17 victory over Stanford.


Said strong safety Chris Horton: “I felt on defense, we played good enough to win the game, but we had some mistakes we needed to take care of. You won’t see that out of this group again.”

And Horton is certain because?

“We missed a couple of tackles, so we’re out here and it’s bash, bash, bash,” Horton said. “After all those tackling drills Coach Walker had us doing, during the game we’re going to be going, ‘Let’s get after people.’ ”

The Bruins spent two days working on tackling in preparation for Brigham Young on Saturday, getting extra work from an unhappy defensive coordinator.

“You get that quick, short whistle and you know it’s going to sting you a little bit,” Davis said. “What’s worse is we can never see his eyes behind that [sunglasses]. It’s kind of intimidating.

“Yesterday, we didn’t like him too much because he made us do tackling drills twice.”

Still, Davis said Walker’s reasons were valid.

“It’s unfortunate that a team like Stanford scores points on us like that,” Davis said. “Our expectations for ourselves are so high, sometimes when we get scored on, it’s like a downer.”

The Ben Olson-BYU questions made the rounds in Provo, Utah, this week. During his weekly conference call, Cougars Coach Bronco Mendenhall made it clear on several occasions that he was not involved with the situation when Olson decided to transfer to UCLA after his Mormon mission.

Mendenhall was hired as the team’s defensive coordinator before the 2003 season and became the head coach after the 2004 season. Olson spent six months at BYU in 2002-03.

“I never met Ben,” Mendenhall said. “I had a few conversations with his father to see if he was planning on returning. It became fairly clear he had other plans. I wished he and his dad the best of luck.”

The Bruins continue to wait on a decision regarding the status of freshman defensive tackle Brian Price, who has not been cleared to play by the NCAA. The NCAA continues to review and examine Price’s transcripts.

“We’ve got to move forward regardless, whether we have him or not,” Coach Karl Dorrell said. “We’re getting players we currently have ready to play. I know [the Price family] is more frustrated than we are. We remain optimistic and stay patient.”

Price, who was pulled off the field on the second day of practice, will have to go through four more days of conditioning if he is cleared.

Dorrell said whether cornerback Rodney Van (sprained left ankle) can play would be a game-time decision Saturday. If Van does not play, Alterraun Verner will take his left cornerback spot and Michael Norris will be used as a nickel back. . . . Defensive tackle Jerzy Siewierski was wearing an ankle boot and did not practice Wednesday because of plantar fasciitis in his left foot, Dorrell said. . . . Quarterback Patrick Cowan went through some light drills Wednesday, but Dorrell said he was at least a week away from practicing.



vs. Brigham Young (1-0)

Saturday, at the Rose Bowl

3:30 p.m., Versus