Sept. 20, 1999
By JOHN NADEL
AP Sports Writer
LOS ANGELES (AP) - The UCLA Bruins might have a new starting quarterback again this weekend, but not by choice.
There's a good possibility redshirt freshman Cory Paus, chosen over Drew Bennett as the first-stringer last week, won't play Saturday when the 18th-ranked Bruins open defense of their Pac-10 championship at Stanford.
Paus landed on the football when sacked by Frank Battle early in the second quarter of UCLA's 35-21 victory over Fresno State last Saturday night, and then a couple of Bulldogs landed on him.
Paus' chest and neck were still very sore Monday, and he was having difficulty turning his head.
He certainly didn't appear in shape to be playing any time soon.
"I have trouble getting out of bed," he said. "It's getting better. Little movements make it hurt, driving a car, brushing my teeth hurt.
"The trainers can't really do anything but let it heal. It's like being in a car accident."
Paus was off to a terrific start, completing his first eight passes and going 9-of-12 for 113 yards and one touchdown before being injured.
"I would love to play, but if I can't play up to the standard needed to beat a fine team like Stanford, I won't try to play," he said. "We'll be fine. That's why we have two quarterbacks."
Bennett, a junior who lost his starting job to Paus, would get the call. Bennett had a productive night against Fresno State, completing 13 of 24 passes for 176 yards and two second-half touchdowns and rushed for 36 yards on eight carries.
"If he doesn't practice by Wednesday, he definitely won't start and probably won't play," Toledo said of Paus.
While saying that, Toledo made it clear Paus will be the starter when healthy.
"After evaluating the film, there's no question he was off and running (against Fresno State)," Toledo said.
Bennett said he understands his role.
"If he's healthy, I'm definitely prepared for them to say Cory's going to start," Bennett said. "Cory didn't really get a chance, he was playing really well before he got hurt."
About himself, Bennett said, "It was good to prove I could perform, it was very satisfying, a big confidence-builder."
UCLA (2-1) will put its 15-game Pac-10 winning streak on the line against an explosive Stanford team which rebounded from a 69-17 trouncing at Texas to beat Washington State 54-17 and Arizona 50-22.
Arizona was an overwhelming preseason choice to win the Pac-10 title, while UCLA was picked third and Stanford eighth.
"Stanford has the most returning players of anybody in the Pac-10," Toledo said. "They return 19 starters, they have 31 seniors on their team."
The Stanford depth chart lists 15 seniors as starters - six on offense and nine on defense.
"There's no doubt they're one of the teams in the Pac-10 in the driver's seat," Toledo said. "They're 2-0 (in the conference) and they beat the team picked to win."
Toledo said he was more surprised about the one-sided nature of Stanford's loss at Texas than he was about its overwhelming win at Arizona.
However, noting Cincinnati's upset of Wisconsin over the weekend, Toledo added, "Nothing surprises me anymore. I thought Stanford would be pretty good. There are a lot of good football teams out there, there's a lot of parity in college football."
The UCLA defense, ineffective last season, figures to be severely tested by Stanford, which rolled up 580 yards at Arizona.
"This team can run the ball, and they can throw the ball," Toledo said of a Cardinal team averaging 283.3 yards passing and 146.7 yards rushing. "This, in my opinion, is the toughest test for our defense to date."
And that includes No. 12 Ohio State, which beat UCLA 42-20 on Sept. 11.
Nevertheless, linebacker Robert Thomas, involved in 14 tackles against Fresno State, expressed confidence.
"We can rise to any occasion," he said. "The defense will be better this year, definitely. Each game, we're going to get better, each day, we're going to get better."