Oct. 5, 2001
By LANDON HALL
AP Sports Writer
CORVALLIS, Ore. - The UCLA defense is looking for the next quarterback to hit, the next opponent to humiliate. So the last thing the group needs is a weekend off.
"I'm like a kid with a brand-new bike and it rides real fast, then somebody sticks a bat in the spokes," coach Bob Toledo said following Saturday's 38-7 rout of Oregon State. "I want to keep riding."
Even with an open date this week, UCLA (4-0, 1-0 Pac-10) should have no trouble preparing for its next conference challenge, Oct. 13 against Washington. The Bruins are playing the kind of defense that's been foreign to followers of the blue and gold for more than 20 years.
Against Oregon State, which went 11-1 and shared the Pac-10 title a year ago, the UCLA defense recorded its most dominant performance yet. After giving up 1,163 yards and 99 points in consecutive defeats to the Beavers, UCLA allowed only 220 yards.
The win moved UCLA from 12th in the AP poll to ninth, its highest ranking since finishing the 1998 season No. 8. The loss dropped Oregon State out of the Top 25.
Oregon State failed to move inside the Bruins' 44-yard line until freshman Steven Jackson ran 63 yards for a touchdown with 6:52 to play, against UCLA's second string. That kept Beavers coach Dennis Erickson from enduring the first shutout of his college career.
Starting tailback Ken Simonton had a career-low 26 yards, his Heisman Trophy campaign smothered in a swarm of Bruins tacklers. Quarterback Jonathan Smith completed just 11 of 32 passes for 106 yards after throwing for 935 yards and seven touchdowns in three previous games against UCLA.
"Shock," UCLA defensive end Kenyon Coleman said. "I don't think they were blown away. I think they were shocked."
UCLA has allowed only 48 points, the fewest through four games since 1980, when coach Terry Donahue's team gave up 28. This year's starting group, however, has allowed only 27 points and has held opposing offenses scoreless for nine straight quarters.
The Bruins were 3-0 entering Saturday's game, with solid victories over Alabama and Ohio State, but there was reluctance to dive onto the bandwagon. They had the same record last year before going into Eugene and getting trounced by Oregon, 29-10. And they had won just two of their previous 10 conference openers.
Now, there is no doubting that UCLA is a changed team.
"I think people are starting to see that it's not that these teams we're playing are bad," free safety Marques Anderson said. "We're just making them look bad."
After his interception, Smith found some success on the Beavers' next drive, but then UCLA defensive coordinator Phil Snow started calling blitzes. Smith was sacked three times and took numerous hits after getting rid of the ball.
The defense had so much momentum that when tackle Ken Kocher was helped off the field, favoring his right knee, early in the second quarter, he wouldn't leave the sideline. Trainers put a brace on the knee and he returned.
"We were going so crazy, I wanted to be part of it," he said.
The UCLA offense also had its best effort of the season. With a 10-0 lead, Cory Paus put the game away with a 38-yard touchdown pass to Brian Poli-Dixon as time expired in the first half.
The Bruins, with vivid memories of an embarrassing 55-7 loss at Reser Stadium two years ago, scored three touchdowns in the third quarter to take a 38-0 lead. DeShaun Foster finished with 147 yards, three touchdowns and no fumbles, and Paus went through a fourth straight game without an interception.
"Actually, I expected to blow them out by more than this," Poli-Dixon said. "This was the tip of the iceberg. We easily could have put up 60 points.
Oregon State (1-2) seemed so surprised to score a touchdown that Seth Trimmer, who holds on extra points, forgot to run onto the field, leaving kicker Ryan Cesca standing around for several seconds.
"I hope we can bounce back from this," said linebacker Richard Seigler, whose team will face unbeaten Washington State on Saturday. "We've got the athletes and the coaches to win out. But if we don't get some heart behind it, we'll just keep losing."