Sept. 3, 1999
By JOHN NADEL
AP Sports Writer
PASADENA, Calif. - The waiting is just about over for UCLA quarterback Drew Bennett, who will make his first start Saturday when the 17th-ranked Bruins open the season against Boise State.
It's a wait that's lasted nearly four years.
"I just hope my palms are dry enough to throw the ball," said Bennett, a fourth-year junior who hasn't been a starter since 1995, when he was a high school senior in Orinda, Calif. "There will obviously be a few butterflies.
"I've been here for three years, I've played in a game. I think I'll feel comfortable."
Bennett replaces Cade McNown, who started his last 43 games at UCLA and is now a rookie with the Chicago Bears. As McNown's backup the last two years, Bennett attempted 11 passes and completed six for 76 yards and two touchdowns.
"It could all change once I get into the game, but right now, I feel prepared," Bennett said. "I feel like I know how to run all the plays."
Asked if his family will be on hand, Bennett smiled and said, "I told my brother, who goes to Arizona, to come. In a worst-case scenario, this could be my only start."
UCLA coach Bob Toledo said he also plans to play freshman Cory Paus at quarterback, "and it won't be after the game is decided."
Toledo said Bennett "hasn't looked great in practices, but in scrimmages, he's turned it up a notch. He's a bright young man, he's an athletic young man. Only time will tell."
The Bruins, 10-2 last season, won a school-record 20 straight games in the 1997 and 1998 seasons but enter this year on a two-game losing streak, having lost to Miami 49-45 and then Wisconsin 38-31 in the Rose Bowl.