Sept. 17, 1999
PASADENA, Calif. - The real UCLA Bruins will take the Rose Bowl field Saturday night against Fresno State.
The 21st-ranked Bruins (1-1) welcome back 10 players suspended for the season's first two games for illegally obtaining handicapped parking permits, and six will start against the Bulldogs (1-1).
"It's not whole, but it's better than it was," UCLA coach Bob Toledo said of his team. "There's some injuries, still."
Of the suspended players, Toledo said: "That's a big chunk of your team. There's a reason why they were starters before and the other guys were backups."
The defense should especially be improved, with a whole new corps of first-stringers at linebacker - Tony White, Robert Thomas and Ryan Nece - along with a new starting strong safety - Ryan Roques.
Fullback Durell Price and left guard Oscar Cabrera are the suspended players who will start on offense.
"I just want to play some football," Price said. "I can't wait to get out there Saturday. These last few weeks have been really tough. Being on the scout team really checks your love for the game."
That was the role filled by the suspended players.
Roques said he felt a sense of relief, now that he can play again.
"I think there will be an even bigger sense of relief when we actually play in a game," he said. "I think there will be an impact immediately, we're going to be getting a lot of talent and leadership back."
There will be another addition to UCLA's starting lineup - Toledo announced at the beginning of the week that Cory Paus, who split time with junior Drew Bennett in the first two games, will be the team's full-time quarterback.
A redshirt freshman, Paus completed 20 of 38 passes for 225 yards and one touchdown with three interceptions in a 38-7 win over Boise State and a 42-20 loss at No. 13 Ohio State.
"The offense has to play a lot better, I hope I can help us do that," Paus said.
Toledo said he wants to go with one quarterback, and won't have a quick hook for Paus.
"He's going to make some mistakes," Toledo said. "He can throw the ball very well. He can also eventually give us some leadership. There's no doubt that we need to get the ball to our wide receivers. They are our playmakers."
Wide receivers Danny Farmer, Brad Melsby, Brian Poli-Dixon and Freddie Mitchell have combined for only 13 receptions for 144 yards.
The Bruins are listed as 21-point favorites over the Bulldogs, who beat Portland State 34-6 and lost to Oregon State 46-23.
"There's no question we respect them," Toledo said. "They've won a lot of games against good teams. They'll probably bring 30,000 fans with them, they travel real well. They'll be excited to play this game."
Fresno coach Pat Hill played center at UC Riverside when Toledo was on the coaching staff there, and UCLA assistants Kelly Skipper and Jethro Franklin are former Fresno players and assistants who played for the Bulldogs in a 17-0 loss to UCLA at the Rose Bowl in 1987.
In addition, Skipper's younger brother, Tim, is a starting linebacker and the leading tackler on the current Fresno team.
"We are going into this game knowing we have to have our 'A' game," Hill said. "We have to execute and make the big plays at critical times. If we do that, it will be a great game."
Paris Gaines, Fresno's leading rusher, said the Bulldogs need to execute better than they did last weekend.
"I'm not the only one on our team who thinks we can win this game," Gaines said.
By JOHN NADEL AP Sports Writer