Winless Utah hosts No. 11 UCLA

Winless Utah hosts No. 11 UCLA

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AP Sports Writer

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Now that No. 11 UCLA has survived one team from Utah, the Bruins will try to finish off the other a little more efficiently.

UCLA visits Utah on Saturday, one week after almost blowing a 20-point lead to the Utes' biggest rival.

Coach Karl Dorrell hopes the Bruins learned something about the Mountain West Conference in the 27-17 win over Brigham Young, which started as blowout before a finish that was too tight for Dorrell.

"At this point in the season, to go through a tough game like last week and to be able to finish the game in the way that they did, that's a big positive that I see in this football team," Dorrell said.

On the other hand, Dorrell wasn't particularly impressed when BYU was rallying from a 20-0 deficit and pulled within 20-17. The Bruins (2-0) finally sealed it with a late touchdown.

"We can play a lot better in every aspect," Dorrell said.

They'll get a chance improve Saturday against Utah (0-2), which has been deluged with injuries and barely gained 500 yards in the first two games.

It's odd for a Pac-10 team such as UCLA to play Utah's Mountain West rivals in back-to-back weeks. But that's how the schedule worked out for the Bruins, who may have gotten the more difficult of the two out of the way last week.

The Utes are off to their worst start in seven years. Injuries have knocked out three starters for the season and two others, including quarterback Brian Johnson, won't be available Saturday.

"This is not what any of us expected, and this wasn't the situation we expected to be in," Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said.

"There's no magic fairy that's going to come down, tap us on the head, and make everything right again. We have to fight our way out of this."

The Utes have been short-handed all season because of the injuries. Johnson separated his right shoulder in the season opener and won't return until next week against UNLV at the earliest.

Defensive lineman Gabe Long (knee) also won't play Saturday. Running back Matt Asiata, receiver Brent Casteel (knee) and offensive lineman Jason Boone (knee) are all out for the season -- which still has 10 games to go.

"We're about at Plan E right now, but that's the nature of the game," Whittingham said.

Tommy Grady will start again for Johnson against the Bruins, a team he didn't have much luck against last year. The Oklahoma transfer made his Utah debut against UCLA in the season opener a year ago and the second pass he threw was returned for a touchdown in the Bruins' 31-10 win at the Rose Bowl.

Grady made his first college start last week against Air Force and passed for 240 yards, but much of that came in the fourth quarter as the Utes desperately tried to rally. He also threw two interceptions.

Dorrell is as concerned with his own offense as he is with stopping Utah's.

UCLA's Ben Olson passed for 286 yards and five touchdowns in the season opener against Stanford, then managed just 126 passing yards and no scores last week against BYU -- his former school.

Olson spent his freshman season in Provo before leaving on a Mormon church mission, then transferring. Saturday will be Olson's first game in Utah.

He didn't have a touchdown pass last week and the Bruins finished with only 236 yards against BYU, needing Chris Markey's 3-yard touchdown run with 1:12 remaining to seal it.

"When it was time to finish it and put a score on the board, that's what we did. When we needed to put the team away, we put them away," tailback Kahlil Bell said. "Regardless of the final score and all that, we made it happen."

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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