Nov. 9, 2001
By JOHN NADEL
AP Sports Writer
LOS ANGELES - UCLA coach Bob Toledo opened his weekly press conference with a sigh, then acknowledged the disappointment of two straight losses following six wins to begin the season.
And with No. 7 Oregon (8-1, 5-1 Pac-10) visiting the Rose Bowl on Saturday and the Bruins pretty banged up, the losing streak just might reach three.
"We have to readjust our goals," Toledo said Monday - two days after his team lost 20-14 at No. 11 Washington State thanks in great part to seven turnovers and 11 penalties for 80 yards. "The first goal is to win this week.
"The disappointment is we positioned ourselves to have a great season, and we've let that go by the wayside. Not all is lost, we can still have a good season. I'm going to remain positive."
Toledo mentioned that perennial power Florida State, ranked 10th, has the same overall record as the Bruins (6-2, 3-2), who need to win their final three games plus get some help to tie for the conference title.
It's possible every Pac-10 team will have at least two losses, but since Washington State (8-1, 5-1) and Washington (7-1, 5-1) meet Nov. 17 and each has only one other conference game, it's definite the champion won't have more than two.
However, Toledo said Monday that Paus, still hampered by a jammed thumb on his throwing hand, will get the nod against Oregon. A fourth-year junior, Paus has been the UCLA starter for most of the last three years.
"We had a nice little discussion today," Toledo said. "He feels like he's healthier. He pressed a little bit at the end of the game, he tried to make some plays."
Intercepted once in UCLA's first seven games, Paus was picked off three times by Washington State's Lamont Thompson to end the Bruins' final three possessions.
Paus sat out the second half of a 38-28 loss at No. 16 Stanford on Oct 27 after injuring his thumb on UCLA's last offensive play of the first half. He relieved McCann in the second quarter at Washington State and completed 7 of 19 passes for 107 yards.
He was 5-of-16 for 105 yards before being injured at Stanford.
"He's ready to compete and get it done," Toledo said. "He has not thrown the ball as well as he did in the spring. I relate it to his thumb."
Paus first jammed his thumb over the summer, and was unable to throw for a couple of weeks.
"He needs to complete routine plays," Toledo said. "He thinks it's getting better. I'm hoping it improves. If not, Scott McEwan will get his chance."
McEwan was impressive in the second half at Stanford, but sprained his right ankle late in the game and wasn't able to play against Washington State.
Wide receiver is another position where the Bruins have been hit hard by injuries.
Tab Perry, who has a team-leading 21 receptions for 416 yards, remains hospitalized with four broken ribs and a partially collapsed lung and is sidelined indefinitely. Perry was injured in the third quarter at Washington State.
"I talked to Tab, he's feeling better," Toledo said. "He'll probably spend a few more days in the hospital."
The status of Brian Poli-Dixon, the fifth-leading receiver in school history, remained uncertain Monday. Poli-Dixon has missed three games due to a dislocated left shoulder.
Linebacker Robert Thomas, involved in 18 tackles at Washington State, said spirits remain high despite the two recent losses.
"We lost, we can't get it back, we have to go on," he said. "Everyone's staying motivated. We have too much senior leadership on this team to fall. We're not going to let that happen, I'm not going to let that happen.
"There's still a lot to play for, we've got three games left with a bowl game, we want to go out on top."