Oct. 19, 2001
By JOHN NADEL
AP Sports Writer
LOS ANGELES - UCLA coach Bob Toledo covered a variety of subjects with the media on Monday when it was brought to his attention he had gone about 10 minutes without mentioning running back DeShaun Foster.
"I was waiting for you to ask about him," Toledo said with a broad grin.
Foster has inspired a lot of talk since rushing for a school-record 301 yards on 31 carries and scoring four touchdowns in Saturday's 35-13 victory over Washington, snapping the Huskies' 12-game winning streak.
His performance in a game televised to much of the country moved him from 10th to first on the national rushing list, and perhaps made him the No. 1 candidate for the Heisman Trophy - at least for now.
"He took it to another level, he really did," Toledo said of the 6-foot-1, 215-pound senior. "He wasn't going to let anybody stop him, he was running violent.
"I think DeShaun proved to everyone he's one of the great backs in the country, if not the best back. He ran with power, he ran with great vision, he ran with great speed. There's no question he put himself in position to be considered for the Heisman.
"He wanted to make a statement, our whole team did."
No. 4 UCLA (5-0, 2-0 Pac-10) gets an apparent breather Saturday night against California (0-5, 0-3) before playing road games at Stanford (3-1, 2-1) and No. 19 Washington State (6-0, 4-0) and at home against No. 5 Oregon (6-0, 3-0).
"We need to win one more game to be bowl-eligible," Toledo said without cracking a smile, pointing out UCLA has lost to Cal the last two years.
"It's always going to be a goal of ours, to compete for a national championship," Toledo said. "We came close a few years ago."
Toledo referred to 1998, when the Bruins won their first 10 games before losing 49-45 at Miami to knock them out of a matchup with Tennessee in the national championship game.
"We have positioned ourselves, it is a possibility if we continue to win," Toledo said of the national championship. "I think we have a confident - not cocky - football team."
UCLA has had one Heisman Trophy winner - quarterback Gary Beban in 1967. Foster, who has gained 813 yards on 143 carries (5.7 average per carry, 162.6 per game) could make it two.
"It's cool, it's good and stuff," Foster said about the Heisman hype, at least by others. "I don't like to talk about it. I'm trying to stay focused, we've got Cal this week, just focus on Cal.
"It's just going to get harder every week. The higher you're ranked, the more people want to knock you off. I'm just going to try and keep rolling."
Foster put up some amazing numbers at Tustin (Calif.) H.S., rushing for 1,797 yards and 29 touchdowns as a junior and 3,398 yards and a state-record 54 touchdowns as a senior, when he surpassed the 300-yard mark three times.
His previous single-game high at UCLA was 189 yards against Kansas last month.
"The main goal (against Washington) for me is get 200 yards, go from there," Foster said. "It's really sunk in, it's a lot of yards, a good game.
"It was almost like high school. Like I told my dad, `I could get 300, still play defense.' I was about to pass out, it takes a lot more (effort now)."
When asked about his apparent uneasiness as the center of attention, Foster smiled and said: "I'm shy, that's the thing. I'm not shy around my friends. I tend to get shy in interviews, in front of cameras."
But not on the football field.
"He's something," Bruins quarterback Cory Paus said. "He's definitely got to be mentioned in any Heisman talk. For him to have the best (rushing) game in UCLA history - that really helps."