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Original Issue

23 UCLA After two dismal seasons, the retooled Bruins are saying they have something to prove

The math is simple: UCLA won 10 games in 1997 and 10 in '98. Then
the Bruins won 10 games again--in the last two seasons combined.
At first glance the defense was to blame for the drop-off to 4-7
and 6-6 records. UCLA couldn't stop most teams, permitting 28.3
points per game in '99 and 31.5 last year. In January coach Bob
Toledo hired Arizona State defensive coordinator Phil Snow to
make the defense more aggressive. A closer inspection of the
downturn, however, indicates that the Bruins need to make big
strides on offense as well, and they have the tools to do so.

It's a tribute to Toledo, a career offensive coach, that last
season's injury-riddled, oft-overmatched unit scored the 30.3
points per game that it did. UCLA depended heavily on big plays
from wideouts Freddie Mitchell, who left early for the NFL, and
Brian Poli-Dixon, a senior this season. The Bruins believe they
will improve if they better mix the run and pass. That will
happen, says assistant coach Mark Weber, if his linemen sustain
their blocks longer. Toward that end, he wants them coming out of
their stances about eight inches lower than they did in the past.
That will give them more leverage to control would-be tacklers.

This offensive line is the Bruins' most experienced since the
conference-winning team of '98. Its cause will be helped if
senior tailback DeShaun Foster and junior quarterback Cory Paus
can make it through the season injury-free. Foster missed almost
all of two games after breaking a bone in his right hand on Sept.
30 against Arizona State. Paus separated his right shoulder on
UCLA's first play of last season and missed four games. He
returned to complete 56% of his passes, throwing for 2,154 yards
and 17 touchdowns with nine interceptions. However, on the last
play of the first half in the Sun Bowl, he refractured the left
collarbone that he broke late in '99. Paus, who threw without a
hitch in spring practice, will be ready for the season opener, at

These Bruins have high expectations. A few players were
contributors on the league championship team three years ago.
Many of the others signed with UCLA because of that success.
"This is our chance," says junior offensive tackle Mike Saffer,
"to prove what we can do."


COLOR PHOTO: ROBERT BECK Give him just a crack of daylight, and Foster, who rushed for 930 yards last year, is off to the races.

2000 record: 6-6 (3-5, T5 in Pac-10)
Final ranking: not ranked


Points allowed per game last season, the most of any team with a
nonlosing record.

An opposing team's coach sizes up the Bruins

"UCLA could be outstanding on defense, led by Kenyon Coleman, a
big end who can run.... The Bruins have a great linebacker in
Robert Thomas and could have the best secondary speed in the
nation behind Miami's.... DeShaun Foster is as good an inside
zone runner as I've seen. He could be the first running back
picked in next year's draft.... Sophomore wideout Tab Perry is
awfully talented too.... Typical Bruins: They recruit so well
and have so much talent that they never really fall far."

Strength: 5th of 117

Sept. 1 at Alabama
8 at Kansas
29 at Oregon State
27 at Stanford
Nov. 3 at Washington State
17 at USC