Nov. 8, 1999
LOS ANGELES - Here's what kind of a season it's been for UCLA: the Bruins had a bye last week, and lost two starting offensive linemen for the season.
And the beat goes on.
Bob Toledo, in his fourth year as UCLA's coach and an assistant or head coach in college since 1973, said Monday he's never had a team hit this hard by injuries.
"Not this bad, as you keep losing people as we go through the season," he said. "I hate to make excuses, but I can never remember it being like this.
"We probably will have started 42, 43 players this year because of the injuries. I'm not using it as an excuse, I'm just stating it as a fact."
Then, through a forced smile, Toledo added "It's just one of those things."
The latest victimized by the injury bug were guard Mike Saffer, who has started seven of his team's nine games, and center Troy Danoff, a starter in all nine.
On the first day of a five-minute scrimmage last Tuesday, Saffer sprained the medial collateral ligament in his right knee. The following day, Danoff tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee.
Brian Polak will move from tackle to guard to replace Saffer, and Bryce Bohlander, a true freshman, will make his first career start at tackle.
"Is he ready to start? He's going to have to start," Toledo said of Bohlander. "He should be redshirting."
Matt Phelan, who has started two games at guard and two at tackle, will replace Danoff, prompting Toledo to say, "He's the best that's left."
Saffer is a redshirt freshman who will likely recover within a few weeks. The same can't be said for Danoff, a sophomore.
"It's a devastating blow for us, he's going to miss spring football as well," Toledo said.
The Bruins (3-6, 1-5 Pac-10) have gone from a national championship contender to a conference doormat in less than a year, having lost eight of 11 games since winning a school-record 20 straight. That streak ended in Miami 11 months ago.
"All I can say is, we'll be back," said Toledo, repeating what's become a weekly mantra. "I hope it's this year."
There isn't much time, the Bruins entertain No. 23 Washington (6-3, 5-1) on Saturday at the Rose Bowl, and finish the season against crosstown rival Southern California (3-6, 1-5) at the Los Angeles Coliseum on Nov. 20.
UCLA and USC are tied for last place in the Pac-10 with Washington State. Should Washington beat the Bruins in Pasadena and Washington State in Seattle on Nov. 20, the Huskies will clinch their first Rose Bowl berth in seven years.
"We want to be a spoiler," Toledo said. "You've got to have goals, that's the one we have to take now. I think that's obvious to everyone.
"For us, it's the last home game for 12 seniors, they want to perform well."
Toledo said wide receiver Danny Farmer and tailback DeShaun Foster - two of UCLA's best players - will play against Washington. Both have missed substantial playing time because of injuries.
"They'll be as healthy as they've been all year," Toledo said. "They're not at full speed, no."
The Huskies are coached by 38-year-old Rick Neuheisel, a former quarterback at UCLA who also served as an assistant coach for the Bruins. He was head coach at Colorado for four seasons before being hired by Washington last January.
By JOHN NADEL
AP Sports Writer