Oct. 8, 2001
By JOHN NADEL
AP Sports Writer
LOS ANGELES - UCLA running back DeShaun Foster is being talked up for the Heisman Trophy, and the Bruins defense has been out of this world.
Paus has said repeatedly since practice began in August he knew the Bruins' defense, which gave up a school-record 368 points last season, would be markedly improved. It has allowed 47 points in four games including 13 in the last two.
It's Paus' job to make sure the offense holds up its end of the bargain, and so far, it's worked out, although perhaps not the way many thought it would.
UCLA coach Bob Toledo admitted Monday the play of the defense was a factor in his offensive approach this season, which has been less wide-open than in the past.
"I think that's probably fair to say," Toledo said. "Defensively, we're playing extremely well. That gives you a chance to win the game."
And, Toledo said, with a running back like Foster, it makes sense to use him since the opposition is obligated to commit up to eight defenders to stop the run, opening up the passing game.
"That's not to say we're not going to throw the football," Toledo said. "I'm not a conservative person. I hope I utilize the talent I have. If I don't give it to DeShaun Foster, I'm going to be second-guessed."
The Bruins threw an average of 33 passes per game last season. In four games this year, the average is 23.3.
Paus became the third sophomore in UCLA history to pass for over 2,000 yards last season despite missing three full games and all but three plays of a fourth due to a separated shoulder, and the second half of the Sun Bowl with a broken collarbone.
He was 134-of-241 for 2,154 yards and 17 touchdowns with nine interceptions.
So far this year, he's 46-of-87 for 761 yards and five touchdowns and no interceptions.
"There may be a little more pressure, I'm a little older, because of the way they coach us and what's expected of me," said Paus, a fourth-year junior. "I've still got the ability to win or lose the game. I can screw the game up."
He hasn't done that, as evidence by his interception total.
"He got off to a slow start," Foster said, referring to Paus' performance in a season-opening 20-17 victory at Alabama, when he was 8-of-22 for 123 yards and one TD. "But he's getting better each week. He hasn't thrown any picks. We've got to help him by catching the ball.
"He plays hard, he's a leader. He leads by example. He says a lot in the huddle, that's where he does a lot of talking. He's just doing what's being asked of him. If he was asked to throw 40 passes a game, he could do that."
Toledo said following UCLA's 38-7 victory at Oregon State on Sept. 29 - the last time the Bruins played - that he considered sitting Paus for a spell after he completed only two of 10 passes to start the game.
"I saw it in his eyes, the way he was talking to me, when I came off the field," Paus recalled. "I finished 10-for-14. It was just two little runs."
One of the completions was a perfectly thrown 38-yard touchdown pass to Brian Poli-Dixon on the final play of the first half to give the seventh-ranked Bruins (4-0, 1-0 Pac-10) a 17-0 halftime lead. Oregon State wasn't in the game after that.
The Bruins, who were off last weekend, face No. 10 Washington (4-0, 2-0) on Saturday at the Rose Bowl in a game that ultimately might determine the conference championship.
"This one is the biggest game of our career," Paus said, echoing what he said before the Oregon State game. "If we keep playing like we want to play, it'll be like that the rest of the year."