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Receivers will work harder

Times Staff Writer

Brandon Breazell expects personal responsibility to be the mantra for UCLA wide receivers this week.

Their numbers have dwindled heading into Saturday’s game at Oregon State. Senior Marcus Everett, who missed last week because of a sprained ankle, has improved, but not enough to play this week. The depth at receiver was further tested when Gavin Ketchum severely sprained his ankle against Washington on Saturday.

“I don’t feel any pressure, but I do know I have to push myself to play harder because of the injuries,” said Breazell, the Bruins’ leading receiver with 20 receptions for 297 yards. “The rest of the guys who step into those places, they have to work as hard as I’m working.”

There seems to be opportunity for players such as Ryan Graves, a junior who has not made a reception in a game during his career, and Osaar Rasshan, as well as other receivers who have yet to get significant playing time this season.

“We’re going to do it by committee,” Coach Karl Dorrell said. “That’s what we have to do. I know we’re a little banged up, but we feel like we have some depth there.”

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The Bruins still have four of the six receivers who have played the majority of time -- Breazell, Joe Cowan, Terrence Austin and Dominique Johnson. Yet others could be slipped into the rotation.

“This is the time for our guys to shine,” Breazell said. “A guy like Ryan, he has been busting his butt all four years. Now is his time.”

Dorrell was less specific about whom the Bruins would use to fill in the gaps created by injuries.

“We will be traveling seven receivers and all those guys are getting ready to play,” Dorrell said. “So we’re going to let all those guys play in their own specific roles, playing on certain plays.”

That would seem to work against Rasshan, who plays the same spot as Cowan and Johnson. Cowan has seven receptions, two for touchdowns. Johnson has six receptions, two for touchdowns.

“Dominique has done a nice job,” Dorrell said. “Osaar is behind a couple of guys at the X position. He will get a chance to play. Now his role in terms of what he will be doing, and as much as he will be doing, is not as much as what Joe and Dominique are doing.”

Dorrell said that Oregon State’s defense was “definitely the best we have played against to this point.”

And what makes the Beavers so tough?

“They’re good,” Dorrell said.

In what areas?

“Well, they’re good everywhere,” Dorrell said. “They’re good against the run. They’re good against the pass. . . . They are very good.”

Aleksey Lanis will start at tackle in place of Micah Kia this week, a move that Dorrell said was made because, “He played really well and Micah has been up and down.”

Among the things Kia has struggled with are false starts the past two weeks. He was called for two against Utah and two more against Washington.

Lanis started 12 games last season.

Dorrell said that fullback Michael Pitre, out all season because of a bone bruise in his right knee, may get some playing time this week.

“He has had two or three days without any setbacks,” Dorrell said. “He’s not going to start, so don’t say he’s starting. He does have a chance to help as a reserve.”

Pitre, the Bruins starter at fullback last season, had arthroscopic surgery on the knee after last season.

What’s in a name? Everything, apparently.

UCLA’s backup quarterback’s full name is McLeod John Baltasar Bethel-Thompson.

“It covers my entire background, Scottish, Scandinavia and El Salvador,” he said.

Said Keith Minor, his coach at San Francisco Balboa High: “It’s not a name, it’s a family tree.”

Oregon State is a little beat up at receiver. Sammie Stroughter, the Beavers’ top receiver, has a lower back injury and Brandon Powers has a hip pointer. Neither is expected to miss Saturday’s game. . . . UCLA freshman linebacker Akeem Ayers, who has been out with a knee injury, went through individual drills Wednesday.

chris.foster@latimes.com


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