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Olson sits out again; Cowan figures to start

Times Staff Writer

UCLA quarterback Ben Olson remained sidelined Wednesday with what is still not being called a concussion, but he is unlikely to start Saturday’s game against Washington.

Patrick Cowan, who just returned from a partially torn hamstring, will “probably be the starter,” Coach Karl Dorrell said.

Olson was repeatedly hit in the Bruins’ 44-6 loss to Utah on Saturday and was held out of practice because of “lingering headaches” the last two days, though no one has called it a concussion.

“I don’t know what they are calling it,” Olson said.

Dorrell wasn’t ready to label the injury.

“The concern is we have two guys who have had concussions, Nikola Dragovic and Aaron Whittington, so we’re a little concerned when a guy has headaches and nausea " Dorrell said.

“The thing is Ben was pretty coherent after the game. With Whittington and Nikola, I don’t want to say they were unconscious, but they didn’t know where they were at a particular time. Ben has had consciousness and has been coherent.”

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Asked if it was a concussion, Dorrell said, “Sometimes you get hit, have headaches and it goes away in a day or two. I guess [a concussion] is what we’re leaning toward it to be because it has been awhile.”

Olson must pass an exertion test today to be cleared to play. If he practices today, he could be available for a portion of the game.

“I feel much better than I did, but they are really cautious when it comes to head injuries and that kind of stuff,” Olson said.

He couldn’t pinpoint one particular hit Saturday that might have caused the injury: “I took some shots and everything added up.”

Cowan started seven games last season and led the Bruins to victories in the last three regular-season games, one against USC, to get the Bruins into the Emerald Bowl.

But Cowan lost the quarterback battle in spring practice, then injured his hamstring a month ago.

He returned to practice this week.

“Pat has stayed in it while he has been out,” Dorrell said. “He has gone to all our meetings.”

Cowan may have been rusty in his first full practice in more than a month on Tuesday, but his orating skills were in mid-season form.

Asked about the possibility of stepping in for Olson, Cowan said, “I’ve been preparing to come back when my team needed me. If this is when my team needs me, then I will be ready to play.”

Asked about the possibility of starting this week, Cowan said, “I’ve always prepared to play. . . .”

Cowan clarified his point moments later, “I feel like I’ve been preparing to play and, you know, you just got to keep doing stuff to get better.”

So Washington beware, Cowan is preparing to play.

“I think whenever you do something that you’re going to be doing, the more you do it, the better you can get at it,” Cowan said.

The loss of guard Shannon Tevaga, who has an injured right knee, has created a void three players may have to fill Saturday. P.J. Irvin was expected to start, but offensive line coach Bob Connelly said he would also probably use Micah Reed and Nate Skaggs. . . . Keith Lombard, who gave up his scholarship to move from defensive end to running back, has moved back to defensive end. . . . UCLA’s game against Oregon State on Sept. 29 will be televised locally on FSN West at 3:30 p.m.

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chris.foster@latimes.com


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