Answers are hard to come by around the UCLA campus these days.
But Bruins coach Terry Donahue said he won’t stop searching for solutions to the problems that have beset his once-highly regarded football team the past two weekends.
After opening the season with impressive non-conference wins over Miami and Brigham Young, the Bruins have dropped back-to-back Pacific-10 Conference games to Oregon and Washington State.
Last weekend’s 24-15 loss to WSU dropped them from 16th to “others receiving votes” in The Associated Press poll and touched off a quarterback controversy that has Donahue considering alternating junior Ryan Fien and Cade McNown, a true freshman, under center in this Saturday’s non-conference home game against Fresno State.
“We may be in a situation where we play two quarterbacks,” Donahue told the Los Angeles Daily News. “I’m evaluating that. I’m looking at that. We may play a quarterback, and if he’s moving the team and things are going well, great, we’ll leave him alone.
“If he isn’t, then we’ll try to get a change of pace and stimulate some success with someone else.”
Fien, who came out of fall camp as the starter, did little to endear himself last weekend when he criticized Donahue for benching him in favor of McNown during the WSU game.
But Donahue said the incident had nothing to do with he decision to reevaluate the position. And he backed up that assertion by saying he plans to reevaluate several other positions and meet individually with certain players as part of the process.
“It’s a lot of soul-searching, things you dread having to go through at this time, but it absolutely must be done,” Donahue explained. “The key is not to go on a purge. You have to find out why you’re not competitive and what you can do to make yourself competitive.
“That’s my thrust, and it could be anything from A to Z.”
Unbeaten Stanford, the surprise team of the Pac-10, vaulted into the Associated Press’ Top 25 college football rankings this week for the first time this season and set off a wide range of reactions among Cardinal players.
“It’s definitely nice to prove someone wrong,” strong safety David Walker said, referring to several preseason polls that picked Stanford (1-0 in the Pac-10, 3-0-1) to finish either ninth or 10th in the league.
“The ranking is kind of that tangible evidence that you’re playing well,” linebacker Mike Hall told the San Francisco Chronicle.
But perhaps the most telling comment came from fullback Adama Salina, who said,”We’re ranked?”
This does not compute
Jeff Sagarin’s computer obviously thinks much more highly of the Pacific-10 Conference than the humanoids who vote in the Associated Press and CNN/USA Today polls.
This week’s Sagarin Football Ratings, released in Tuesday’s USA Today, ranked six Pac-10 teams - USC (6), Oregon (14), Washington (15), Stanford (17), UCLA (18) and Washington State (19) - among its Top 20 teams.
Monday’s AP and CNN/USA Today polls had only USC, Washington and Oregon ranked in their Top 20.
Bye no blessing to some
The bye week facing the University of Oregon might seem like a blessing to some of the Ducks who were banged up in Saturday’s 28-21 upset loss to Stanford.
But quarterback Tony Graziani said he doesn’t need it and doesn’t want it. “I’d rather go out and play this weekend and beat up on somebody,” he said. “Now we have two weeks to think about this.”
USC’s 31-10 win over Arizona last Saturday knocked the Wildcats out of the AP’s Top 25 ratings for the first time in 39 weeks… . WSU’s defense, which ranks fourth in the nation against the run (69.7 yards per game), has yet to allow a rushing touchdown this season… . Even with the upcoming bye week, Stanford defensive tackle John Hebert is expected to miss the Oct. 7 game at Arizona State because of a knee injury.
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