Bruins Looking For Faster Start Against Buffaloes

Sept. 20, 2002

AP Sports Writer

PASADENA, Calif. -- UCLA hopes to generate some offense a little earlier Saturday than in its first two games.

After what happened last weekend, Colorado can't be so picky - any production will be an improvement.

The Buffaloes (1-2), coming off their most one-sided loss in 10 years, hope for better luck against a team from Los Angeles when they face No. 20 UCLA (2-0) at the Rose Bowl.

The Bruins have beaten Colorado State 30-19 and Oklahoma State 38-24 despite falling behind 10-0 in both games.

'I don't want to have to come from behind all the time,' UCLA coach Bob Toledo said. 'The plus side is we've done it twice. It wears on me, it's going to make an old man out of me. I don't want to make a habit of it.'

Colorado is coming off an embarrassing 40-3 loss to No. 11 Southern California - its worst loss at Folsom Field since 1983.

'The offense didn't show up. It was probably the poorest offensive game a team of mine has ever played,' Colorado coach Gary Barnett said.

The Buffaloes managed only four first downs and 61 yards of total offense - a far cry from the 582 yards they rolled up in a stunning 62-36 victory over Nebraska to finish the regular season last year, when they won the Big 12 championship.

Robert Hodge completed only 1 of 9 passes for 20 yards in his first major college start as a replacement for Craig Ochs, sidelined because of a concussion.

Ochs won't play Saturday, so Hodge will get another shot.

'There isn't anybody pointing fingers,' Barnett said. 'Our players seem to have confidence in him. Our coaches certainly do. All you can do is support him, we're in this thing together.'

Chris Brown and Bobby Purify, Colorado's leading rushers last season, are both back and running effectively, but the Buffaloes know they need at least the threat of a balanced attack.

'If we don't come in and perform better at the quarterback position, we're going to struggle,' Barnett said. 'This isn't where you fix one guy, this is where you fix the whole offense.'

The Bruins have no such problem, having averaged 423.5 yards and 34 points in their first two games despite the sluggish starts.

'The things that are becoming clear, I already knew - that these young kids who are having to play are capable of playing, that the offensive line I'm playing behind is the best since I've been here,' said fifth-year senior Cory Paus, who has completed 25 of 50 passes for 419 yards and three touchdowns. 'We're about where I thought we would be.'

Colorado, ranked seventh in The Associated Press preseason poll, dropped out of the top 25 after the loss to USC.

'You look at Colorado, it's basically the same team that won the Big 12 championship last year,' Toledo said. 'They're a physical team. They've had some key injuries, especially at quarterback. They're going to want to take out what happened last week on us.'

UCLA has beaten Colorado in each of the four previous games between the teams, most recently in 1984 when the Bruins won a 33-16 decision at Folsom Field.

The Buffaloes will play at the Rose Bowl for the first time.

'It's a great place to play,' Barnett said. 'It's a great tradition, a beautiful setting. I've only been there one other time and that was real special for me.'

That was on Jan. 1, 1996, when Barnett guided upstart Northwestern to the Rose Bowl game, where the Wildcats lost to USC 41-32.

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