Bruins say they can go deeper

Times Staff Writer

It was not a stop-us-if-you-can challenge, merely the facts in the eyes of UCLA receiver Brandon Breazell.

The Bruins’ receiving corps lacks a marquee name. Yet, within the group, the feeling grows that there is quality to go with the quantity, which goes beyond seniors Breazell, Marcus Everett and Joe Cowan.

“We have a lot of playmakers, it’s not just us three,” Breazell said. “If somebody goes down, somebody else is going to come up with a big game. If somebody’s tired, we have the confidence that the next person is going to make the big play.”


That point seemed made last week against Stanford. Everett, whose 31 catches led Bruins wide receivers last season, was shut out. But Breazell had six receptions for 111 yards and one touchdown. Cowan had two catches, both for touchdowns.

Dominique Johnson and Gavin Ketchum each made one catch, both for touchdowns. Terrence Austin had a 22-yard reception.

Those are the kind of numbers the Bruins dwell on rather than talking about their logjam of receivers.

“I think we have a deep enough group that different guys can have big games,” offensive coordinator Jay Norvell said. “If the coverage is on Joe, that should free Marcus or Brandon up. If those two guys are getting heavy coverage, then other guys should be free.”

In other words, Breazell said, “All our guys are playmakers. So you don’t know who to cover.”

That could come in handy today against a Brigham Young team that uses what Norvell calls “blanket coverage.”

Said Norvell: “We’re spreading the ball around and that gives the quarterback confidence in more than just one guy. We’ll take what the scheme gives you. If we continue to execute that way, it will make us harder to defend.”

Or as Breazell put it, “It can be a long day for a defense.”

After giving up 331 yards passing in a 45-17 victory over Stanford last week, the Bruins’ defense spent the week being reminded how annoyed defensive coordinator DeWayne Walker gets about missed tackles.

“This is not about our glory as a defense, it’s about winning games,” linebacker Christian Taylor said. “We’re a very good tackling team, [but] when guys miss tackles and it goes for big gains, it’s extremely disappointing.”

The Cougars present a different problem, with running backs Harvey Unga, Fui Vakapuna and Manase Tonga all weighing in at more than 220 pounds.

“They are hard-running, second- and third-effort guys,” UCLA Coach Karl Dorrell said.

Johnson, the UCLA receiver who played in one game last season, has been granted an extra year of eligibility by the NCAA. He will have three years remaining after this season, though he must sit out the first two games of one of those seasons. . . . A BYU official said Tonga, the Cougars’ second-leading returning rusher, was “held out” of last Saturday’s game against Arizona for “violating team rules.” The Associated Press reported that Tonga was pulled over by police for running a stop sign July 3 and was arrested for failing to pay an $82 fine from an earlier identical offense. Police said he also gave a false name. . . . UCLA is 20-5 at the Rose Bowl under Dorrell The last time BYU came to the Rose Bowl was 1993, when it was ranked 19th in the nation. The Bruins routed the Cougars, 68-14 The Bruins have won 21 consecutive regular-season games against teams in the Mountain West Conference, a streak that pre-dates the founding of that conference. UCLA lost to Wyoming in the 2004 Las Vegas Bowl.




Keys to the game

Brigham Young (1-0)

at No. 13 UCLA (1-0)

Today, 3:30 p.m., Rose Bowl

TV: Versus. Radio: 570

1 Playmakers. The Bruins’ edge when they have the ball is speed at wide receiver. Get the ball in the hands of Brandon Breazell, Joe Cowan and Marcus Everett and let them make plays. Brigham Young’s coverage is a group effort and the Cougars can swarm tackle.

2 Tackling. The Bruins had some shoddy moments tackling in their opener against Stanford and the Cougars have three big backs -- all weighing 220 pounds or more. UCLA defensive coordinator DeWayne Walker cited seven missed tackles for allowing Stanford to run up some yardage last week.

3 Line push. BYU’s starting offensive line averages 318 pounds. UCLA’s starting defensive front averages 272 pounds, though it is quicker. Whichever team gets the push gets the edge.