For UCLA offensive lineman Jake Dean, a big moment arrives
UCLA’s Jake Dean will finally get a chance to do what he has always dreamed about . . . start against USC.
Dean, a junior, will be at right guard Saturday as Ryan Taylor, out the last three games because of a foot injury, is listed as questionable.
“This means a lot,” Dean said. “Growing up, you want to play in this kind of big rivalry game. I’m getting a shot to finally go out and do it, and not just watch. You come here to play this game. All that matters is how you perform in this one.”
Dean started seven games at center a year ago, but with the influx of offensive line talent this season, he was relegated to a backup role. He has practiced at center, guard and tackle before getting his first start of the season against Arizona State last week.
“It helps to have played already this season, but this is SC,” Dean said. “They’re the best. This is the one that matters.”
Dean continued to work even though his future as a lineman was in doubt, given the younger players in the starting lineup. The Bruins have started three sophomores and a freshman on the line all season.
But “my dad always tells me you never know when it will be the last you get to play, you have to go out and have fun with it.”
UCLA wide receiver Randall Carroll has already experienced the uglier side of the rivalry with USC.
Carroll had been committed to USC for months, then changed to UCLA on signing day.
“Yeah, I caught a lot of grief,” Carroll said, laughing. “I started getting telephone calls, people I didn’t even know, cussing at me. I got some ugly text messages. I didn’t even go to school for three days.”
Carroll said most of the backlash lasted until spring practice started, though he still receives occasional comments.
The “Bruin” bear statue was splashed with USC colors early Wednesday. The culprits, believed to be USC students, cut through a tarp to get at the statue, but there were no UCLA students assigned for protection.
Across town, USC students claimed they repelled 30 UCLA students trying to get at the Tommy Trojan statue.
So the scouting report on UCLA students: an ineffective offense and big holes on defense.
Officials from the Roady’s Humanitarian Bowl and New Mexico Bowl have requested credentials for Saturday’s game. Both have expressed interest in the Bruins.
The Holiday, Poinsettia and Emerald bowls will also be represented, though USC is more likely on their agendas.