Darren Andrews is becoming a go-to receiver for UCLA

Darren Andrews is becoming a go-to receiver for UCLA
UCLA receiver Darren Andrews (7) runs past Arizona's Demetrius Flannigan-Fowles (6) and Kwesi Mashack (15) during the second half Saturday. (Sean M. Haffey / Getty Images)

It has been a season of constant flux for UCLA's receivers. Eighteen players have caught passes and the rotation has varied as much as the team's practice music playlist, which includes rap, classic rock and other not-so-classic selections.

That qualifies Darren Andrews as Mr. Consistency.


The junior receiver has caught at least two passes in 13 consecutive games going back to last season, though he easily exceeded that total Saturday against Arizona. Andrews logged career highs with nine receptions for 108 yards during the Bruins' 45-24 victory, reaching 100 yards for the second time in his career.

"He's dependable and he catches it and he's explosive and he really cares and he prepares well," UCLA Coach Jim Mora said Monday, "so I think you're seeing a lot of that paying off with him."

Andrews might have also identified a new talent, sprinting 26 yards for a touchdown in the fourth quarter on the first running play of his career. That should have earned some thanks from the running backs, considering it significantly boosted the team's average of 3.2 yards on all other carries.

The secret of Andrews' receiving success isn't really a secret.

"Practice, practice, practice," said Andrews, who leads the Bruins with 21 catches and 301 yards receiving. "I make the plays in practice, so if I make it in practice I figure I'll make it in the game."

The receivers rotation has wildly varied in part because of a glut of pass catchers and in part because of continued drops. Mossi Johnson, Eldridge Massington, Kenneth Walker III and tailback Soso Jamabo each had a drop against Arizona.

That led to an opportunity for freshman Theo Howard, who turned a short pass into a 19-yard touchdown early in the third quarter.

"If anything goes wrong, the next person is up," Andrews said, "so you've just got to be ready."

Protection package

UCLA's offensive line did not give up a sack for the first time this season against Arizona, a potentially important development heading into a game against sack-happy Arizona State on Saturday.

"That's something we've really emphasized in practice and really worked hard and gotten better in the past two weeks," left tackle Conor McDermott said.

The Bruins were able to withstand the loss of right guard Kolton Miller, who watched the second half on crutches after limping off the field in the second quarter. Andre James admirably replaced Miller, whose status for the game against the Sun Devils remained unknown.

Whoever mans right guard figures to be tested by an Arizona State pass rush that has registered 11 sacks in five games.

"They bring a lot of different stunts," McDermott said, "but we just gotta really take our time up front and really communicate and just go through as many different looks as possible" during practice.


Quarterback uncertainty

Arizona State quarterback Manny Wilkins' availability against UCLA remained unknown after he suffered a left leg injury against USC and watched the second half on crutches.

Coach Todd Graham said Monday that X-rays revealed no serious injury and Wilkins had shed his walking boot. Wilkins had completed 13 of 24 passes for 148 yards and an interception when he left the game. His replacement, redshirt freshman Brady White, completed six of 13 passes for 80 yards and a touchdown.

Mora said Arizona State's offense looked about the same with White in the game.

"You can't really overhaul your whole offense or your defense depending on an injury, you just can't," Mora said. "There's not enough time to prepare two different schemes."

Quick hits

Mora said it was "way too early to say" whether Nate Starks would remain the featured tailback after he gained 80 yards in 17 carries against Arizona during his first game in that role. … Mora said there was no update on the availability of receiver Ishmael Adams for the Arizona State game after Adams suffered a partially dislocated shoulder against Arizona. … UCLA's game against Washington State on Oct. 15 in Pullman, Wash., will start at 7:30 p.m. PDT and be televised by ESPN or ESPN2.

Twitter: @latbbolch