They’ll try to get better, right from the (false) start

Times Staff Writer

After a better week of practice than what led up to the Utah game, UCLA Coach Karl Dorrell is hoping his team has a fast start tonight against Washington.

“We were focused. Hopefully that transfers into the game,” he said.

False starts, on the other hand, Dorrell could do without.

One of the many problems during last week’s 44-6 loss to Utah was the number of penalties on offense -- particularly on the offensive line.


The Bruins had six false-start penalties -- five by the offensive line and four on third downs when the game was still close, including three when the Bruins were in Utah territory.

“They got to understand they got to have poise,” offensive line coach Bob Connelly said. “They got to understand the sense of urgency to lock in and be focused in the huddle and anticipate the snap count.”

That message was repeated . . . and repeated . . . throughout the week, with Dorrell paying close attention to sophomore tackle Micah Kia, who had two of the false-start penalties against Utah.

“We were really emphasizing the details, that’s what you have to do when something slips through the cracks like that,” Dorrell said. “We had a couple in practice [Thursday] and I talked with Micah, that he’s got to focus and be a little better at that. You want it so it’s something they think about, along with all the assignments and snap count, all those things they do.”

The other chore this week for Connelly was replacing guard Shannon Tevaga (knee injury), who is considered the Bruins’ best offensive lineman. Senior P.J. Irvin is expected to get the start, though Connelly said he probably would use Nate Skaggs and backup center Micah Reed as well.

A year ago, the Bruins seemed well on their way to a 3-0 record, jumping out to a 16-0 lead against Washington, then collapsing in a 29-19 loss. Memories linger heading into tonight’s rematch.

“It is not only a Pac-10 game, but also another game at the Rose Bowl,” cornerback Trey Brown said. “Last year, they kind of gave us one and we feel like we owe them something, as well as trying to raise our level of play.”

Washington has lost its last five games to UCLA at the Rose Bowl. Its last win in Pasadena came in 1995.

Washington linebacker Dan Howell, running back Brandon Johnson and cornerback Byron Davenport -- who played for UCLA in 2004 and 2005 -- will all be in uniform tonight. All missed the Huskies’ game last week against Ohio State, Howell with a knee injury, Johnson with a rib injury and Davenport with a sore hamstring.

UCLA’s last touchdown pass came in the fourth quarter of the season opener against Stanford. . . . The Bruins have been outscored, 68-13, in their last six quarters and rank last among Pac-10 teams in scoring, averaging 26 points. They are ninth in defense, also at 26 points a game. . . . The Bruins’ defense lead the conference in sacks with 11. . . . Washington ranks last among conference teams in total offense, averaging 337 yards.




UCLA (2-1, 1-0)

vs. Washington (2-1, 0-0)

Tonight, 7:15, Rose Bowl

TV: FSN Prime Ticket Radio: 570

1 Trench warfare. The Bruins’ offensive line had five false starts and gave up five sacks against Utah last week. The Huskies’ defensive front saw -- from a distance at times -- Ohio State roll up 263 yards rushing. So who got better in a week?

2 Locker check. The Bruins lead the conference in sacks, but the Huskies’ Jake Locker is the most elusive quarterback they have faced. He has the ability to create after a play breaks down, meaning Bruins linebackers must be aware.

3 Quarterback Patrick Cowan. He lost his first four starts the last time he replaced an injured Ben Olson, who will miss this game because of concussion-like symptoms. The Bruins can ill afford another loss and the Huskies will certainly come after him.

-- Chris Foster