Sept. 20, 1999
THE GAME -- The UCLA Bruins (2-1), two-time defending Pac-10 conference champions, open the 1999 conference season at Stanford (2-1, 2-0) on Saturday, Sept. 25. Kickoff is scheduled for 2 p.m. There is no live television of the game, however the game can be seen on a same-day delayed basis by Fox Sports Net West 2 beginning at 3:30 p.m. It will be broadcast live on the Bruin Radio Network (XTRA 1150 in Los Angeles). The Bruins are ranked No. 18 by both the USA Today/ESPN and Associated Press polls.
FIRST ACTION - Defensive backs Ryan Roques, Eric Whitfield, linebackers Ali Abdul Azziz, Tony White, Ryan Nece and Robert Thomas, offensive linemen Oscar Cabrera and Jim Ghezzi and running backs Durell Price and Keith Brown all saw their first action of the 1999 season versus Fresno State after being suspended for the first two games for wrongfully obtaining and misusing disabled parking placards.
UCLA IN THE POLLS - UCLA finished the 1998 season ranked No. 8 on the final polls of both USA Today/ESPN and Associated Press. It was never out of the Top Ten. The Bruins finished in the final AP Top Ten in back-to-back seasons for the first time since 1987-88 and the final Top Ten of the coaches' poll in back-to-back seasons for the first time since 1984-85.
1999 rankings: USA Today/ESPN: Pre-season: No. 15, Sept. 5: No. 13, Sept. 12: No. 21, Sept. 19: No. 18, Associated Press: Pre-season: No. 16, Aug. 29: No. 17, Sept. 6: No. 14, Sept. 12: No. 21, Sept. 19: No. 18.
PRE-SEASON HONORS - Senior flanker Danny Farmer, a pre-season first-team All-American, is on the pre-season list for the Belitnikoff Award, presented to the nation's top receiver. Sophomore outside linebacker Ryan Nece is on the pre-season list for the Butkus Award, presented to the nation's best linebacker.
LAST WEEK - On Saturday night at the Rose Bowl, UCLA overcame an injury to starting quarterback Cory Paus to defeat Fresno State, 35-21.
The Bruins led 10-7 when Paus left the game with bruised ribs. UCLA, behind Drew Bennett, built a 20-7 halftime lead, saw the Bulldogs move ahead, 21-20 with 7:41 remaining in the third quarter and then rallied for the win thanks to two touchdown passes by Bennett.
On the evening, Bennett completed 13 of 24 passes for a career-high 176 yards and two touchdowns -- four yards to Brad Melsby and 15 yards to Brian Poli-Dixon. He also rushed for 36 yards, including UCLA's longest run from scrimmage (24 yards). Prior to his injury, Paus, making the first start of his career, had completed nine of 12 passes for 113 yards and one touchdown.
The Bruins, playing without pre-season All-American Danny Farmer, completed 17 passes to their wide receivers. Freddie Mitchell made nine receptions (tied for seventh on UCLA's single-game list) for 149 yards tied for 15th on that list) after making just one in the first two games. Melsby had four receptions for 42 yards, including touchdowns of 24 and four yards and Poli-Dixon also made four catches for 59 yards and his 15-yard TD.
Defensively, UCLA allowed just 313 net yards and benefited from the return of several starters, particularly at linebacker. Sophomore middle linebacker Robert Thomas, making his first career start, was credited with a team-high 14 tackles, the most by a Bruin since Brian Willmer made 15 versus Arizona on Nov. 16, 1996. Sophomore Ryan Nece, a first-team Freshman All-American in 1998, had 10 stops and junior Tony White, starting outside after playing inside a year ago, finished with seven stops and recovered a fumble to set up UCLA's go-ahead touchdown in the third quarter.
Senior safety Joey Strycula had his third straight solid outing, finishing with eight tackles, including one for loss. Sophomore tackle Anthony Fletcher, starting in place of injured Pete Holland, made seven tackles (one for loss) and fellow sophomore tackle Ken Kocher made six stops (one for loss). True freshman cornerback Ricky Manning, making the first start of his career, had four tackles (one for loss) and returned an interception 83 yards to set up a field goal on the final play of the first half.
NOTING THE CARDINAL - Stanford is coached by Tyrone Willingham who owns a 24-24-1 record in four-plus seasons on the Farm. The Cardinal is 2-1 but 2-0 in Pac-10 play, having lost to Texas and defeated Washington State and Arizona. It has scored at least 50 points in each of its Pac-10 victories. Stanford ranks third in the Pac-10 in total offense (430.0 yards) and fourth in scoring (40.3).
UCLA leads the series 38-28-2 and has won two straight and five of the last six. In addition, the Bruins have enjoyed success in their last three games at Stanford.
In last year's contest, Todd Husak racked up 422 yards passing on the night, but the Bruins came from behind for a 28-24 win on the strength of 14 fourth-quarter points. The Cardinal seemed on the verge of retaking the lead late in the game when Husak hit John Allen over the middle and he appeared to be heading into the end zone. Defensive back Marques Anderson stripped Allen of the ball from behind at the one-yard line and Larry Atkins recovered in the end zone for the Bruins to preserve the win. Offensively, UCLA accounted for 435 yards, including 254 in the air and 181 on the ground, including 94 by Keith Brown.
In 1997, UCLA defeated the Cardinal, 27-7 on the Farm.
BRUIN HEAD COACH BOB TOLEDO - Now in his fourth season as head coach of the Bruins, Bob Toledo owns a record of 27-11 (19-5 in Pac-10 play). His winning percentage of .711 is the second-highest in UCLA history behind only Red Sanders, the coach of UCLA's national championship team, among coaches with at least three years on the job. The 20-game winning streak snapped versus Miami last Dec. 5 was the longest in school history, twice as long as the previous streak (10, set in 1946 and tied in 1954-55).
Toledo is only the second coach in school history to win 10 regular-season games (Bert LaBrucherie in 1946) and only the second coach in school history to win 10 games in back-to-back seasons (Terry Donahue in 1987-88).
Under Toledo, UCLA is 23-4 when it scores at least 30 points and 13-1 when it scores at least 40. It is 4-7 when it scores 29 or fewer points. The Bruins are 22-2 when leading entering the fourth quarter, 2-0 when tied entering the final quarter and have won three times when trailing after three periods. UCLA is 19-2 when leading at the half and has won four times after trailing at the half and four when tied at the half.
UCLA is 7-7 versus ranked opponents under Toledo and had won six straight games prior to the 1999 Rose Bowl.
DID YOU KNOW? - UCLA has won 15 straight Pac-10 contests, dating back to the 1997 opener at Washington State, a three-point loss (37-34). The Bruins have also won seven straight Pac-10 road games.
UCLA's record of 22-5 in the last two-plus years is the best in the Pac-10, as is its league record of 15-1. Arizona is second in both categories with an overall record of 21-8 and a league mark of 11-6.
UCLA's record of 27-11 under head coach Bob Toledo is the best in the Pac-10 during the last three-plus years (Arizona State is second at 26-11). Arizona is 26-14 while Washington is 23-15. In league play, UCLA is 19-5, followed by ASU's 18-6 and Washington's 16-8.
UCLA has produced two Outland Trophy winners (Jonathan Ogden in 1995 and Kris Farris in 1998) and three first-team All-America tackles (Ogden, Chad Overhauser in 1997 and Farris) in the last four years.
In 1998, UCLA became only the fourth team in league history to win eight conference games in a season. The others were: USC - 1988, Washington - 1991, Arizona State - 1996. UCLA was also just one of three teams to win 15 Pac-10 games over two seasons (seven in 1997 and eight this year). The others include: USC in 1987 and 1988, UW in 1990 and 1991.
TEAM NOTES - UCLA has scored three of its 10 touchdowns on drives of 2:00 or less (a fourth was scored in 2:10). UCLA scored 44 offensive touchdowns on drives of less than 3:00 in 1998, including 14 of less than 1:00.
UCLA has scored at least 28 points in 17 of the last 18 games. The Bruins have also scored at least 27 points in 24 of their last 25 contests.
In 1998, UCLA ranked first in the league in fewest quarterback sacks allowed (10 in 11 regular-season games). The Bruins have allowed just five in their first three games this season (one with less than two minutes left on the third-string quarterback at Ohio State) despite losing three starters from last year and a fourth for the season's first two games.
The two-time Pacific-10 Conference champion Bruins concluded the 1998 season 10-2 overall and 8-0 in league play. They were ranked No. 8 on the final polls by both USA Today/ESPN and Associated Press. They were also No. 5 on the final BCS rankings. UCLA won 10 games in back-to-back seasons for only the second time in history and back-to-back league titles for the first time since 1982-83.
ACADEMIC AWARD - UCLA is one of 26 football programs to graduate at least 70% of its 1993-94 freshman class, according to results released by the American Football Coaches Association. UCLA's percentage was 82.6%, with 19 of 23 student-athletes earning a degree. UCLA was the only Pac-10 school to earn a spot on the list.
NCAA GRADUATION RATES - In the 1998 NCAA Graduation Report, UCLA earned the following rankings among schools in the 1998 Final USA Today Top 25 poll: first (tied) in grade-point average for the incoming freshman classes of 1994-97 (3.15), second in SAT scores for the incoming freshman classes of 1994-97 (990), seventh in graduation rate for the 1991 freshman class (65%) and 11th in graduation rate for the 1988-91 freshman classes (57%).
SPLIT END DANNY FARMER - The pre-season All-American did not playing against Fresno State because of his sprained left ankle. The injury also caused him to miss the opener against Boise State and see limited action at Ohio State. Against the Buckeyes. he tied for the team lead with three receptions for 56 yards.
Farmer entered the season recognized as one of the leading candidates for the Biletnikoff Award. He has been selected to the pre-season All-America teams of Street & Smith, Lindy's and A former walk-on, Farmer earned a scholarship prior to the 1996 season and concluded it with a team-leading 31 catches.
Farmer's career totals are 133 receptions for 2,503 yards and 16 touchdowns in just 36 games, and he could break both school records (179 receptions and 2,548 yards) by the end of his senior year. He now ranks second on UCLA's career receiving yardage list, having passed J.J. Stokes against Ohio State, and fourth on the career reception list (see career-best lists below). He needs just 46 yards to break the yardage record. A big-play performer, he has made 20 receptions of at least 40 yards, including 13 last season and one in 1999.
Farmer was the team's leading receiver with 58 catches for 1,274 yards (22.0 average) and nine touchdowns. In the Washington game, he became only the fourth player in school history to record over 1,000 receiving yards in a season. His 1,274 yards set a new UCLA record, breaking Kevin Jordan's record of 1,228 yards, set in 1994, and he averaged 106.2 yards per contest. His average (22.0) was the highest in school history among players with at least 36 receptions in a season.
During the regular season, Farmer ranked second in the Pac-10 (16th in the NCAA) in receiving yards per game (102.91), and his average of 22.2 yards per catch was the highest in the league among players averaging at least 2.5 receptions per game.
Farmer is a two-sport star who made major contributions to the volleyball squad, which won NCAA titles in 1998 and 1996. Danny is not the only member of his family to have won a national championship. His father George was a Bruin footballer, as well, and also a member of the 1970 national championship basketball team. Uncle Dave Farmer was on the 1974 USC national championship football team. Both went on to play professional football.
1998 FARMER Receiving
Game TCB Net Avg. TD LG TEX* 4 81 20.3 1 36 HOU* 4 100 25.0 0 41 WSU* 5 100 20.0 0 51 ARIZ 2 87 43.5 1 64 ORE* 7 161 23.0 2 60 CAL* 5 52 10.4 0 19 STAN* 6 78 13.0 0 20 OSU* 5 113 22.6 2 43 WASH* 4 134 33.5 0 61 USC* 3 91 30.3 0 42 MIAMI* 6 135 22.5 2 77 WISC* 7 142 20.3 1 44 1998 58 1274 22.0 9 77
1999 FARMER Receiving
Game TCB Net Avg. TD LG BSU Did Not Play OSU* 3 56 18.7 0 40 FSU Did Not Play
UCLA CAREER RECEPTIONS
Years No. Yds Avg TD Kevin Jordan 1992-95 179 2548 14.23 12 J.J. Stokes 1991-94 154 2469 16.03 28 Sean LaChapelle 1989-92 142 2027 14.27 14 Danny Farmer 1996-99 133 2503 18.82 16 Mike Sherrard 1982-85 128 1965 15.35 10
UCLA CAREER RECEIVING YARDS
Years No. Yds Avg TD Kevin Jordan 1992-95 179 2548 14.23 12 Danny Farmer 1996-98 133 2503 18.82 16 J.J. Stokes 1991-94 154 2469 16.03 28 Jim McElroy 1994-97 101 2029 20.09 14 Sean LaChapelle 1989-92 142 2027 14.27 14
UCLA SEASON RECEIVING YARDS
Year No. Yds Avg TD Danny Farmer 1998 58 1274 22.0 9 Kevin Jordan 1994 73 1228 16.8 7 J.J. Stokes 1993 82 1181 14.4 17 Sean LaChapelle 1991 73 1056 14.5 11 Jim McElroy 1997 47 988 21.0 10
TAILBACK DESHAUN FOSTER - True sophomore DeShaun Foster, a first-team Freshman All-American a year ago, has led the Bruins in rushing in two of the seasons three games. Last week against Fresno State, he gained 30 yards on 12 attempts. On Sept. 11 at Ohio State, he rushed for a team-high 51 yards on 17 carries and scored his second touchdown of the year, a seven-yard run that made the score 21-17 early in the second half. Against Boise State, he led the Bruins with 55 yards on 17 carries and scored UCLA's first touchdown in the second quarter on a four-yard run. On the year, he has gained 136 yards on 36 tries and has scored two of the team's four rushing touchdowns. He has led the team in rushing in six of its last eight games and has scored 14 touchdowns in 14 career games.
In 1998, Foster wrote his name into Bruin lore by scoring all four touchdowns (three rushing and one receiving) in UCLA's 34-17 victory over USC. He became the first true freshman in school history to score four TDs in one game and tied the overall school record held by numerous players, including teammate Jermaine Lewis. On the afternoon, Foster led the team with 109 yards and three touchdowns on 15 carries and made three receptions for 18 yards and one TD.
Foster finished the year with 673 yards, the most ever by a UCLA true freshman. He was the first true freshman to lead the team in rushing since Skip Hicks in 1993 and was also the first true freshman since Hicks to rush for over 100 yards twice in the same season. On the year, he was the team's leading rusher with his 673 yards and averaged a team-best 5.3 yards per attempt. He ranked second on the team with 12 touchdowns (10 rushing and two receiving), a new school record for true freshmen.
During the regular season, he ranked fifth (tied) in the conference in scoring (7.2), seventh in rushing (63.5) and 13th in all-purpose yards (105.5).
He played in 11 games in 1998, missing most of the Oregon game and all of the contest at California with a sprained knee. Foster also averaged 26.6 yards on eight kickoff returns and 7.1 yards on eight punt returns. He led the team in rushing five times, including each of the final four regular-season games.
Top UCLA True Freshman Rushing Totals
Game TCB Net Avg. TD LG DeShaun Foster, 1998 126 673 5.3 10* 65 Shawn Wills, 1988 94 622 6.6 5 50 Skip Hicks, 1993 100 563 5.6 5 43 Gaston Green, 1984 91 516 5.7 5 72 *12 total (two receiving)
CORY PAUS - The redshirt freshman quarterback made his first career start against Fresno State and was playing extremely well when he suffered bruised ribs early in the second quarter. At that time, he had completed nine of 12 passes for 113 yards, including a 24-yard touchdown to Brad Melsby. He also led the Bruins to scores on each of his first two possessions to build a 10-0 lead in the first quarter.
On the year, Paus, who was named the starting quarterback on Sept. 13, has completed 29 of 50 passes (58.0) for 338 yards with two touchdowns and three interceptions.
Paus had a tough evening at Ohio State. Playing in both halves, Paus completed eight of 20 passes for just 97 yards and threw one interception. The previous week, he enjoyed a successful debut against Boise State. completing 12 of 18 passes for 128 yards with one touchdown, a five-yard strike to Gabe Crecion to give the Bruins a 24-0 halftime lead, and two interceptions (one was a "Hail Mary" pass at the end of the first half). He completed seven of nine passes for 78 yards in the first half, directing touchdown drives of 68 and 16 yards. He had two completions of over 20 yards -- a 23-yard screen pass to DeShaun Foster and a 28-yard strike to a diving Bryan Fletcher -- on the 68-yard drive which gave UCLA a 10-0 lead.
When he connected with Crecion in the second quarter against Boise State, Paus became the first Bruin quarterback to throw a touchdown pass in his first game since Bret Johnson did it as a redshirt freshman in the 1989 opener.
QUARTERBACK DREW BENNETT - On Sept. 13, Bennett was informed that he would not start against Fresno State after starting the Bruins' first two games. Five days later, he came off the bench because of an injury to Cory Paus and helped rally the Bruins to a 35-21 victory over the Bulldogs. With UCLA trailing 21-20, Bennett led the Bruins to back-to-back touchdowns on throws of four yards to Brad Melsby after a nice scramble and 15 yards to Brian Poli-Dixon. On the night, he completed 13 of 24 passes for 176 yards and two TDs and rushed for 36 net yards on eight attempts. He also completed six of eight passes for 120 yards on third down for two touchdowns and four first downs.
In three games, the redshirt junior has now completed 30 of 55 (54.5) for 434 yards and four touchdowns. In his last five halves, he is 28 of 46 (60.9) for 422 yards with four TDs and two interceptions. At Ohio State, Bennett completed nine of 15 passes for 138 yards and one touchdown (67 yards to fullback Matt Stanley on a deflection). He also led a first-half field goal drive, making an 18-yard reception, and a touchdown drive on UCLA's first possession of the second half. However, he also threw an interception and lost a fumble - both in the third quarter.
Bennett made his first career start on Sept. 4 versus Boise State after spending the last two seasons backing up Cade McNown. He came to UCLA as a walk-on athlete from Miramonte High School, where he threw for over 2,300 yards and 18 touchdowns and ran for six more scores as a prep senior. He was awarded a scholarship prior to the start of the 1997 season.
In his debut, Bennett started slowly, completing just two of nine passes for 12 yards in the first half. However, he completed six of seven passes for 108 yards, including a 65-yard touchdown to tight end Randy Hakes, in the third quarter. In that quarter, he directed back-to-back scoring drvies of 84 and 80 yards.
He finished the night with eight completions on 16 attempts for 120 yards with one TD and one interception. He also became the first UCLA quarterback since Wayne Cook in the 1992 opener to throw a touchdown pass in his first start (Rob Walker, John Barnes, Ryan Fien and Cade McNown started games between Cook and Bennett).
OFFENSIVE TACKLE BRIAN POLAK - 1999 true junior Brian Polak is now the leader of a young offensive line. In three games, the line has allowed just five sacks (three at Ohio State) despite playing with four new starters for the first two games. In 1998, Polak did an outstanding job in his first year as a starter at right tackle. The starter in all 12 games, he allowed just one sack and 9.5 hurries in 11 regular-season games, but just four in his final 10 games. He had 344 pass-blocking opportunities and 20 knockdown blocks, including four at Washington and three each versus Arizona, Stanford and Miami. He played at least 60 snaps in eight regular-season games (the last six straight).
TAILBACK JERMAINE LEWIS - The dependable Lewis gives UCLA a fine one-two punch at the tailback position. Thus far in 1999, he has gained 83 yards on 23 attempts. In the opener versus Boise State, he was the team's second-leading rusher with 45 yards on 10 attempts. His 21-yard run in the third quarter was UCLA's longest of the game, and his five yard touchdown, his 14th in his last 12 games, gave the Bruins a 38-0 lead with 1:31 remaining in the third quarter. At Ohio State, he was held to 12 net yards on five attempts. Last week against Fresno State, he rushed for 26 yards on eight attempts.
On Sept. 19 of 1998, Lewis ran into the Houston end zone four times to tie the school record for rushing touchdowns and total TDs in a game. The following week against Washington State, Lewis added two more rushing scores and finished with 94 yards on 15 carries, his second-highest total of the year. His career high is 113 yards at Texas in 1998.
He finished the 1998 season as the team's second-leading rusher with a career-high 553 yards and averaged 4.3 yards per attempt. He rushed for at least 45 yards in six games and led the team in rushing five times. He led the Bruins with 13 touchdowns, a total exceeded only seven times in school history. During the regular season, Lewis ranked eighth in the Pac-10 in scoring (6.60) and eighth in rushing (50.3).
TAILBACK KEITH BROWN - Senior tailback Keith Brown, who missed the first two games of this season, made a successful debut against Fresno State. He led the team in rushing with 42 yards on 10 attempts and scored his first touchdown of the year on a two-yard run in the second quarter to give the Bruins a 17-7 lead. A year ago, Brown ran for at least 90 yards three times. He was the team's third-leading rusher with a career-high 423 yards and is averaged 4.3 yards per attempt. Brown ranked 11th in the Pac-10 in rushing (42.0 average). He rushed for a career-best 101 yards (19 carries) versus Oregon in his second start. He had four double-figure runs and produced six first downs. The previous week, he had started for a suspended Jermaine Lewis and rumbled for a then-best 91 yards at Arizona. Highlighting his performance in Tucson was a pair of scoring runs of 54 (career long) and 20 yards in length. Versus Stanford, Brown scampered for 94 yards on 15 carries and two TDs (33 and two yards).
FULLBACK DURELL PRICE - A year ago, senior Durell Price did a fine job in his first season as the starting fullback and saved his best for last. In the Rose Bowl contest against Wisconsin, he made three receptions for 102 yards, including a 61-yard touchdown from flanker Freddie Mitchell to go with catches of 26 and 15 yards, all producing first downs. On the year, he contributed 141 yards on the ground and ranked sixth (tied) on the squad with 14 receptions for 222 yards. At California, he had a 40-yard run en route to a season-high 56 yards. At Washington, he had a 24-yard gallop en route to 44 yards on five attempts. He also developed into a fine blocker. Price, who started 10 games a year ago, made his debut against Fresno State and did a good job as a lead blocker.
FLANKER BRIAN POLI-DIXON - Brian Poli-Dixon, an All-Pac-10 honorable mention selection, enjoyed his best game of the year against Fresno State. He made a season-high four receptions for 59 yards and scored a 15-yard touchdown to give the Bruins a 35-21 lead with 11:49 left in the game.
On the year, he has made eight receptions, third on the squad, for 101 yards and one touchdown. Poli-Dixon came off the bench in the opener and made two receptions for 21 yards, including an 18-yard catch that put UCLA in the red zone on its final touchdown drive. He recorded those same numbers (two catches for 21 yards) at Ohio State.
In 1998, he was the team's second-leading receiver with 44 receptions for 712 yards and 10 touchdowns, one of the best seasons ever by a Bruin sophomore. Only J.J. Stokes (728 yards in 1992) ever gained more yards as a sophomore, and only Mike Sherrard (48) and Kevin Jordan (45) ever made more receptions.
His 10 receiving touchdowns ranked first (tied) in the Pac-10. During his career, he has scored 12 touchdowns on 58 receptions.
His nine-catch performance at Oregon State tied for seventh on the all-time UCLA single-game receiving list. It was the most catches by a UCLA player since J.J. Stokes caught 14 balls in the 1994 Rose Bowl.
WIDE RECEIVERS - Senior Brad Melsby is enjoying a productive senior year. He has started each of the first three contests and ranks second on the team with nine receptions for 77 yards and two touchdowns (tied for the team lead).
In the opener against Boise State, he tied for the team lead with three receptions for 24 yards. At Ohio State, he made two receptions for 11 yards. Last week against Fresno State, he scored two touchdowns (24 and four yards) on four catches (42 yards). His other two receptions both produced first downs.
In 1998, he made 16 receptions (tied for third on the squad) and averaged 20.7 yards per catch, second-highest among players with at least five catches. On Nov. 7 at Oregon State, he made perhaps the catch of the year. With just 21 seconds remaining in the game and the scored tied 34-34, Melsby broke free on the right sideline, caught a pass from Cade McNown and raced to the end zone for the game-winning 61-yard touchdown.
Sophomore Freddie Mitchell, fully recovered from his fractured right femur, is the Bruins' leading receiver with 10 receptions for 160 yards and his average of 16.0 yards per catch is the highest among players with at least five receptions. Mitchell was at his best in the 35-21 victory over Fresno State. He made nine catches for 149 yards to set career highs in both categories. His nine catches are tied for seventh on UCLA's single-game list while the 149 yards are tied for 15th on that list. His 57-yard catch-and-run set up UCLA's final touchdown of the night. Seven of his nine receptions produced a new set of downs for UCLA.
In the opener, Mitchell caught one pass for 11 yards, returned four punts for 33 yards and added one kickoff return for 15 yards in the opener. Against Ohio State, he did not catch a pass but he rushed for 31 yards on two reverses, completed his only pass attempt for 18 yards and returned four kickoffs for 73 yards.
In his debut a year ago against Texas, Mitchell made four receptions for 108 yards, including a 79-yard touchdown reception. He also threw a 34-yard touchdown pass, gained 30 yards on a reverse and returned three kickoffs for 78 yards. He suffered a fractured right femur the following week at Houston while returning a kickoff 47 yards in the first quarter.
Through hard work, he recovered in time to play a few snaps against Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl. On one of those plays, he tossed a 61-yard touchdown to Durell Price off a fake reverse, his second TD pass of the year.
TIGHT ENDS - UCLA's tight end quartet played a key role in the team's 38-7 victory over Boise State, making five catches for 105 yards and two touchdowns. Junior starter Gabe Crecion made the first touchdown catch of his career, a five-yarder in the second quarter to give the Bruins a 24-0 lead. Sophomore Bryan Fletcher, who also started against the Broncos, made two catches for 34 yards, including a diving grab for 28 yards at the four-yard line to set up UCLA's first score. Senior Randy Hakes came off the bench to make two receptions for a team-high 66 yards, including a 65-yard catch-and-run for the second touchdown of his career (the first was a 12-yard pass from Drew Bennett last season against Washington State). Freshman Mike Seidman also participated in the victory.
Against Ohio State, the tight ends caught five passes for 50 yards. Crecion, coming off the bench, made two catches for 31 yards. Fletcher, who started, added two for 11 yards, and Seidman chipped in with an eight-yard reception, the first of his career.
Crecion, who started, and Fletcher each made one catch against Fresno State. Crecion made a diving 19-yard reception on UCLA's second-quarter touchdown drive.
CORNERBACK JASON BELL - The most experienced player in the Bruin secondary, Bell did not play against Fresno State because of pain in his heel which had off-season surgery for bone spurs.
Against Ohio State, he was credited with eight tackles, all primaries, including one for loss. In the opener against Boise State, he made five tackles, including four primaries. A true senior who started every game in 1998, he led the squad with 14 passes defensed and made 38 tackles. He recorded a career-high eight tackles at California and added five stops versus Stanford. He was credited with four passes defensed at Houston, three against USC and two versus Texas and Arizona.
DEFENSIVE END KENYON COLEMAN - Junior defensive left end Kenyon Coleman, one of the leaders of the defensive line, enjoyed a successful training camp and has played well thus far in 1999. Last week against Fresno State, he made three tackles, including one for loss. At Ohio State, he made four tackles and helped hold the Buckeyes in check early. In the opener versus Boise State, he made two tackles, including one for loss, and broke up two passes. A year ago, he earned All-Pac-10 honorable mention, making 23 tackles despite missing two full games (Washington State and Arizona) and most of a third (Houston) after suffering a sprained knee at Houston. He ranked third on the team with 4.5 sacks and was credited with seven tackles for loss.
DEFENSIVE END PETE HOLLAND - Senior right tackle Pete Holland, UCLA's defensive captain, did not play against Fresno State due to back problems. On Sept. 11 at Ohio State, he made two tackles and also broke up two passes in the opener against Boise State. Last year, he started 10 games (two at left end and eight on the right side), missing only against Washington State (nickel package) and Wisconsin (elbow injury). He made 18 tackles, including four each against Oregon and Oregon State.
DEFENSIVE TACKLE KEN KOCHER - The true sophomore, who made his first career start in the 1999 Rose Bowl, leads the defensive linemen with 18 tackles, including four for loss, and ranks third on the squad overall. Last week against Fresno State, he was credited with six tackles, including one for loss, and broke up one pass. Against the Buckeyes, he was credited with eight tackles (four primaries), including two for losses. He also recovered a fumble to end an OSU drive in the third quarter. In the opener against Boise State, he contributed four tackles.
DEFENSIVE TACKLE ANTHONY FLETCHER -The true sophomore made the second start of his career against Fresno State in place of injured Pete Holland and made the most of his opportunity. Fletcher made seven tackles to lead the defensive linemen and now ranks fourth on the squad with 16 stops. Against Ohio State, he came off the bench to make six tackles, including two for loss, after making three versus Boise State.
LINEBACKER RYAN NECE - The sophomore linebacker, a 1998 first-team Freshman All-American and an All-Pac-10 honorable mention choice, made his 1999 debut against Fresno State. Starting on the outside, he made 10 tackles, second on the squad, and broke up one pass.
In 1998, Nece had a career-high and team-best 12 tackles at Miami. He had an outstanding day versus WSU with eight stops and two tackles for loss, including a sack. At Arizona, he added six stops, including a 13-yard sack. In the Oregon game, he made five stops, including a tackle for loss. At California, he made nine tackles, including one sack and a second for a loss. Versus Stanford, he shared team-best honors with eight stops. He had eight stops at Oregon State in addition to a pass breakup and forced fumble. He added seven stops in the win at Washington. In the win over USC, Nece made seven tackles, tied for second on the squad, recovered a fumble and recorded one quarterback sack. At Miami, he led the Bruins with a career-high 12 tackles. In the Rose Bowl, he made eight tackles, including his sixth sack of the season.
Nece was the team's No. 2 tackler behind All-American Larry Atkins with 85 and ranked second with six sacks and 10 tackles for losses. He also recovered two fumbles and forced one while defensing five passes. Nece started the final nine games of the year, moving into the lineup against Arizona, and made at least seven tackles eight times, including each of the last seven games. He played at least 66 defensive snaps in each of those games, including 80 at Oregon State, 78 at Washington, 75 versus Oregon and 69 against USC and Stanford.
LINEBACKER TONY WHITE - The true junior, who did not play in the team's first two games, is now starting at one of the outside spots after playing inside a year ago. Last week against Fresno State, he made seven tackles and recovered a fumble to set up UCLA's go-ahead touchdown late in the third quarter.
In 1998, White started all 12 games and played at least 50 defensive snaps eight times, including 82 versus Oregon, 77 at Houston and 74 against Arizona and California. He was the team's third-leading tackler with 69 stops and ranked third on the squad with two interceptions.
In the second game of the season against Houston, he made five tackles and his first career interception. He added six stops in a fine all-around game versus WSU. Against Arizona, he made five stops, including one for loss, and his second interception and also forced a fumble. In the victory over Oregon, he recorded six stops, one tackle for loss and a fumble recovery which led to the Bruins' go-ahead score late in the fourth quarter. At California, he recorded a career-best 10 tackles to lead the squad. In the Stanford game, he had four tackles and one tackle for loss and added five stops against Oregon State and Washington. In the win over USC, he recovered a fumble to set up UCLA's second touchdown and was credited with three tackles. At Miami, he matched his career high with 10 tackles. In the Rose Bowl against Wisconsin, he made eight tackles.
LINEBACKER ROBERT THOMAS - The true sophomore was one of the nation's top recruits as a prep senior and after a season as a reserve, Thomas has moved into the starting lineup. Making his 1999 debut as the starting middle linebacker, he made a team-high 14 tackles against Fresno State, the most by a Bruin since Brian Willmer made 15 versus Arizona on Nov. 16, 1996.
DEFENSIVE BACK RYAN ROQUES - One of the few seniors on the defensive unit, Roques did not play in the Bruins' first two games this season. In his debut against Fresno State, he returned three kickoffs for 71 yards, including one for 38 yards on the first play of the game. He also made one tackle on defense.
In 1998, he started six of the final 10 games and was tied for sixth in the Pac-10 with his four interceptions. On the year, he made 59 tackles, fifth on the squad, and defensed nine passes. He made a career-high 13 tackles at Oregon State, the most by a Bruin this year, and added seven versus USC and California, six at Washington and Arizona and four each versus Stanford and Houston. He also forced a fumble against USC.
His four interceptions came in consecutive games against Houston, Washington State, Arizona and Oregon. He returned his pick against Houston 17 yards for a touchdown to give the Bruins a 35-14 lead. He played at least 60 defensive snaps in seven games, including 82 versus Oregon, 78 at Arizona, 73 against Stanford, 72 at Oregon State and 71 at California (Miami and Wisconsin games not included).
Roques became an outstanding special teams weapon and earned All-Pac-10 honorable mention in that area. During the regular season, he averaged 12.5 yards (14th nationally) on 19 punt returns and 27.9 yards on 12 kickoff returns. Including the Rose Bowl, his final averages were 12.7 yards on punt returns and 27.2 on kickoff returns. His punt return average was the highest by a Bruin since 1995, when Paul Guidry averaged 15.1 yards on 25 returns. His kickoff return average was the highest by a Bruin with six or more returns since 1969, when Ron Carver averaged 31.9 yards on eight attempts. His 81-yard kickoff return at Washington was UCLA's longest since 1980 (Jojo Townsell, 100 yards vs. California) while his 77-yard punt return for a touchdown was UCLA's first TD of that kind since 1995 (Paul Guidry vs. Arizona State). He had 211 total return yards against the Huskies -- 120 on three kickoffs and 91 on three punts.
OPPORTUNITY KNOCKS- Due to the 10 two-game suspensions, several players have had a chance to contribute and many have taken advantage of the opportunity.
In the secondary, senior walk-on safety Joey Strycula has remained in the starting lineup because of his strong play. After three games, he is the Bruins' leading tackler with 24 stops and also leads the team with two interceptions. Last week against Fresno State, he added eight tackles to his total, including one for loss. Against Ohio State, he accounted for seven tackles and made his second interception of the year, returning it 22 yards. In the opener against Boise State, he led the team with nine tackles and an interception in his first career start.
True freshman corner Ricky Manning Jr. made his first career start against Fresno State and he continues to make things happen. He ranks second on the squad with 19 tackles and leads the Bruins with six stops behind the line of scrimmage. Near the end of the first half against the Bulldogs, he returned an interception 83 yards to UCLA's 11-yard line with 12 seconds remaining to set up a Bruin field goal. He was also credited with four tackles, including one for loss, and broke up a second pass. Against Ohio State, Manning made a career-high eight tackles, including two for losses, and also broke up two passes. In the opener versus Boise State, he made seven tackles, including three for losses.
True freshman outside linebacker Marcus Reese came off the bench to lead the Bruins with nine tackles against Ohio State, including three behind the line of scrimmage. He ranks fifth on the squad with 15 tackles and tied for third with three tackles for loss. He had two tackles versus Fresno State.
Sophomore Ed Stansbury, who started at middle linebacker during the suspensions, made 11 tackles in the two games, including six at Ohio State and five versus Boise State.
JUST FOR KICKS - UCLA's new kickers have enjoyed some success in the year's first three games. Redshirt freshman place kicker Chris Griffith has made all five of his field goal attempts (26 and 28 yards versus Fresno State, 35 and 33 yards against Ohio State and 37 yards against Boise State) and has converted all 10 of his PATs. He is the team's leading scorer with 25 points. True freshman punter Nate Fikse has averaged 37.1 yards on 14 kicks and has had just eight returned for 61 yards (32.5 net). He averaged 36.0 yards on four punts against Fresno State and 40.7 yards on six kicks at Ohio State after averaging 33.0 yards on four kicks in his career debut versus Boise State. Fikse is also handling the kickoff chores.
NEW STARTERS - Three Bruins started for the first time in their careers against Fresno State - quarterback Cory Paus, middle linebacker Robert Thomas and cornerback Ricky Manning Jr. In three games, 19 position players plus both kickers have made their first career starts. Against Ohio State, fullback Matt Stanley and strong safety Julius Williams made the first starts of their careers. In the opener against Boise State, 14 position players - eight on offense and six on defense - made their first starts. Defensively, the new starters in the opener were CB Joe Hunter (redshirt freshman), OLBs Billy Pieper (redshirt junior) and Asi Faoa (true freshman), MLB Ed Stansbury (redshirt sophomore), FS Joey Strycula (redshirt senior), and DE Rusty Williams (redshirt freshman). Offensively, the new starters were FL Freddie Mitchell (redshirt sophomore), OT Blake Worley (redshirt freshman), OG Mike Saffer (redshirt freshman), C Troy Danoff (redshirt sophomore), TEs Gabe Crecion (redshirt junior) and Bryan Fletcher (redshirt sophomore), RB DeShaun Foster (true sophomore) and QB Drew Bennett (redshirt junior). Place kicker Chris Griffith (redshirt freshman) and punter Nate Fikse (true freshman) also made their debuts.
The starting lineup against Fresno State included five seniors, five juniors, seven sophomores, four redshirt freshmen and one true freshman.
FIRST TIME - Nineteen Bruins made their varsity debut against Boise State - 13 redshirt freshmen (offensive linemen Blake Worley and Mike Saffer, quarterback Cory Paus, running backs Adam Geitner and Ken Pritchett, defensive linemen Sean Phillips, Steve Morgan, Rusty Williams and Saia Makakaufaki, linebacker Chris Jackson, defensive backs Joe Hunter and Paul Nelson and place kicker Chris Griffith) and six true freshmen (linebackers Asi Faoa and Marcus Reese, cornerback Ricky Manning Jr., offensive tackle Bryce Bohlander, tight end Mike Seidman and punter Nate Fikse).
Against Ohio State, redshirt freshmen defensive backs Lovell Houston and Audie Attar played for the first time in their careers. Walk-on Kurt Jasso punted for the first time following UCLA's last possession.
CAREER STARTS - Offense - WR: Danny Farmer (0/27), Brad Melsby (3/6), Brian Poli-Dixon (0/10) Freddie Mitchell (3/3), OL: Brian Polak (3/15), Matt Phelan (3/4), Troy Danoff (3/3), Blake Worley (3/3), Mike Saffer (2/2), Oscar Cabrera (1/8), James Ghezzi (0/4), TE: Gabe Crecion (2/2), Bryan Fletcher (2/2), QB: Cory Paus (1/1), Drew Bennett (2/2), RB: DeShaun Foster (3/3), Jermaine Lewis (0/9), Matt Stanley (1/1), Durell Price (1/11), Keith Brown (0/3), PK: Chris Griffith (3/3).
Defense - DL: Pete Holland (2/19), Kenyon Coleman (3/12), Ken Kocher (3/4), Rusty Williams (3/3), Anthony Fletcher (1/2), Travor Turner (0/3), Stephen Sua (0/1), LB: Ed Stansbury (2/2), Billy Pieper (2/2), Asi Faoa (1/1), Tony White (1/13), Ryan Nece (1/10), Robert Thomas (1/1), Santi Hall (1/12), DB: Jason Bell (2/19), Jason Stephens (1/8). Joey Strycula (3/3), Joe Hunter (3/3), Ricky Manning Jr. (1/1), Julius Williams (1/1), Eric Whitfield (0/5), Ryan Roques (1/7), P: Nate Fikse (3/3).
BRUINS IN 1999 PAC-10/NCAA RANKINGS -
Joey Strycula - interceptions (T-16th in NCAA, T-4th in Pac-10, 0.67), tackles (T-8th in Pac-10, 8.0)
Chris Griffith - field goals (T-13th in NCAA, 1st in Pac-10, 1.67), field goal percentage (T-1st in Pac-10, 100.0), scoring (7th in Pac-10, 8.3), kick-scoring (3rd in Pac-10, 8.3)
Drew Bennett - passing efficiency (41st in NCAA, 7th in Pac-10, 133.9), passing yards (8th in Pac-10, 144.7), total offense (8th in Pac-10, 158.7)
Cory Paus - passing efficiency (10th in Pac-10, 116.0), passing yards (10th in Pac-10, 112.7)
Freddie Mitchell - all purpose yards (9th in Pac-10, 104.7), punt returns (7th in Pac-10, 7.0)
Nate Fikse - punting (10th in Pac-10, 37.1)
Ricky Manning Jr. - tackles for loss (T-1st in Pac-10, six)
Rush Offense - 6th in Pac-10, 130.3
Pass Offense - 5th in Pac-10, 263.3
Total Offense - 5th in Pac-10, 393.7
Scoring Offense - 5th in Pac-10, 31.0
Pass Efficiency Defense - 5th in Pac-10, 112.5
Total Defense - 5th in Pac-10, 393.3
Scoring Defense - 3rd in Pac-10, 23.3
Third-Down Conversions - 3rd in Pac-10, 46.8
CLASSROOM STANDOUTS - In 1998, center Shawn Stuart was selected first-team GTE/CoSIDA Academic All-American. Punter/place kicker Chris Sailer and offensive guard Andy Meyers were selected to the 1998 GTE/CoSIDA Academic All-District-8 team.
Twenty members of the 1999 team earned a spot on the Director's Honor Roll (3.0 or higher GPA) during the 1998-99 school year. Ten of them earned a spot during two or more of the three quarters.
UCLA's football program has produced 15 NCAA Post-Graduate Scholarship winners (50 in all sports, including three in 1997-98 and two -- center Shawn Stuart and kicker Chris Sailer, in 1998-99), 16 Academic All-Americans (13 first-team selections), four NCAA Today's Top Six honorees, one NACDA/Disney Scholar-Athlete and two Academic All-America Hall of Fame inductees.
RED ZONE - In three games, UCLA has reached the Red Zone on 12 occasions and has scored 11 times -- seven touchdowns (four rushing, three passing) and four field goals. The 12th drive ended in an interception. Against Fresno State, UCLA scored three touchdowns (two passing and one rushing) and two field goals on five attempts. Against Ohio State, the Bruins scored one rushing TD and two field goals on three trips. UCLA's three opponents have been in the Red Zone 13 times and have scored nine times (five rushing touchdowns and four passing touchdowns). Fresno State scored two touchdowns on four attempts. The other drives ended on an interception and on downs.
In 1998, the Bruins converted their first 14 red zone opportunities in 1998 and finished the year 50 of 57 (38 TDs and 12 FG). A breakdown of the 38 touchdowns - 27 rushing and 11 passing. UCLA opponents scored 28 touchdowns (19 rushing and 9 passing) and 10 field goals on 44 trips into the red zone.
TURNOVERS - In three games, UCLA has created eight turnovers (five interceptions and three fumbles) and has converted them into 25 points (three touchdowns, one two-point conversion and two conversions). The Bruins accounted for only 12 interceptions in 12 games a year ago. UCLA has turned the ball over eight times (six interceptions and two fumbles) and opponents have converted them into 14 points (two touchdowns).
In 1998, the Bruins forced 34 turnovers (12 interceptions and 22 fumbles) and converted them into 92 points (11 touchdowns, five FGs and 11 PATs). Conversely, opponents converted 19 UCLA turnovers (12 interceptions and seven fumbles) into 76 points.
PAC-10 STANDINGS - 1997-99 (Two-plus Years)
Team Overall Pac-10 UCLA 22-5 15-1 Arizona 21-8 11-6 Oregon 17-10 8-8 USC 16-10 9-7 Arizona State 15-10 10-6 Washington 14-12 9-7 Wash. State 13-13 7-10 Oregon State 11-14 2-14 Stanford 10-15 7-11 California 9-15 4-12
PAC-10 STANDINGS - 1996-99 (Three-plus Years)
Team Overall Pac-10 UCLA 27-11 19-5 Arizona State 26-11 18-6 Arizona 26-14 14-11 Washington 23-15 16-8 Oregon 23-15 11-13 USC 22-16 12-12 Wash. State 18-19 10-15 Stanford 17-20 12-14 California 15-21 7-17 Oregon State 13-23 3-21
BRUINS IN THE NFL - As of Sept. 12, 27 former Bruins were listed on 1999 NFL rosters, including two on injured reserve and two on practice squads.
Including Cade McNown (No. 12 selection of the Bears) this past April, UCLA has had seven first-round selections in the last nine years and 16 in the last 21 years. In 1993, UCLA led the nation with former players on opening day rosters. Twelve former Bruins on active NFL rosters have played in 24 Super Bowls, including six-time performer Mike Lodish, Marvcus Patton with four appearances and Troy Aikman and Ken Norton with three each.
Ten members of last year's team signed NFL contracts as draftees or free agents and four were on opening day rosters.
RADIO - The 1999 season is UCLA's third on XTRA 1150 Sports. The Los Angeles all-sports station broadcasts the Bruins' games, including a two-hour pre-game show and a post-game show. In addition, XTRA 1150 provides ancillary programming during the week, including Bob Toledo shows.
Chris Roberts, a four-time Golden Mike Award winner, is in his eighth season as the voice of the Bruins. The on-air team also includes former Arkansas All-American and San Diego Charger standout Billy Ray Smith as analyst and former Bruin quarterback Matt Stevens as sideline reporter / pre-game host. Stations on the Bruin network include: KNZR 1560AM (Bakersfield, CA), KMET 1490AM (Banning, CA), KCBL 1340AM (Fresno, CA), KAVL 610AM (Lancaster/Palmdale, CA), KBAD/KENO 920/1460AM (Las Vegas, NV), KAOI 1110AM (Maui, HI), KCKC 1350AM (Riverside/San Bernardino, CA), KXXT 1340AM (Santa Barbara, CA), KBET 1220AM (Santa Clarita, CA), KRKO 1380AM (Seattle/Tacoma, WA), KLYF 850AM (Thousand Oaks, CA), KVEN 1450AM (Ventura/Oxnard, CA), KVBL 1400AM (Visalia, CA).
UCLA games are also available via the internet at (www.uclabruins.com), (www.xtrasports1150.com) and (www.broadcast.com) or by dialing 1-800-846-4700 (ext. 5929) to listen to the broadcast on the telephone.
TELEVISION - This week's game against Stanford will not be televised live. It will be shown on a same-day delayed basis on Fox Sports Net West 2 beginning at 3:30 pm. The game will also be shown on Sun., Sept. 26 at 5:00 p.m. Including last week's game on Fox Sports Net West 2, 70 of UCLA's last 74 games have appeared on live television.
Each of UCLA's first three games - Boise State, Ohio State and Fresno State (Fox Sports West 2) have been televised live.
The UCLA Sports Magazine show, featuring highlights and interviews, airs several times each week during the season, beginning on Thursdays at 4:00 p.m.
NEXT WEEK - The Bruins travel to Tempe for the first time since 1995 to face the Arizona State Sun Devils on Sat., Oct. 2. Game time is 12:30 p.m. MST/PDT and the contest will be televised by ABC.