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LOS ANGELES (AP) — UCLA's excitement about Josh Rosen's winning debut has been tempered by a big loss on the defensive line.
Eddie Vanderdoes is likely to miss the rest of the season after tearing a ligament in his knee during the 13th-ranked Bruins' 34-16 victory over Virginia. Vanderdoes will need surgery, defensive line coach Angus McClure confirmed Monday.
Instead of basking in the 351-yard, three-touchdown performance by Rosen, their freshman quarterback, the Bruins now must worry about replacing the versatile co-anchor of their defensive line just one game into his junior season. Vanderdoes led UCLA with eight tackles in the opener.
"It's just crazy that he won't be out there with us, but he'll be one of our best fans," said nose tackle Kenny Clark, the other veteran pillar of the UCLA line. "He's definitely a leader on our team. Everybody loves him. He just brings a lot of emotion to the game every Saturday. He keeps the young guys loose. It's definitely a big loss for us."
McClure said the Bruins are likely to use two former backups in tandem to fill Vanderdoes' spot. Junior Eli Ankou and sophomore Matt Dickerson will play much bigger roles in Vanderdoes' absence.
"It's hard to imitate his aggressiveness, his power," Dickerson said of Vanderdoes. "He's a great player, and it's going to be hard to fill in his shoes, but we're going to get it done."
McClure describes Ankou as a solid run-stopper and one of the Bruins' strongest players, while the 6-foot-4 Dickerson is a speedy, promising pass-rusher.
"I think using two guys in combination, that's a benefit for us," McClure said.
UCLA rose dramatically in the national title picture after the remarkable debut by Rosen, who was named the Pac-12's offensive player of the week. Rosen will get his first road test when the Bruins visit UNLV on Saturday, but watching the defense's adjustment to life after Vanderdoes could be even more compelling.
Vanderdoes had two tackles for loss against Virginia, which was limited to 2.9 yards per rushing attempt. His size and speed attract constant double-teams from offenses, freeing Myles Jack and the Bruins' linebackers to make tackles.
"He's just a physical presence that is going to grab the attention of any offensive coordinator," McClure said. "They have to have a scheme and a plan on how they're going to handle that, and we're certainly going to miss that."
The Bruins don't know when Vanderdoes was hurt, but the lineman apparently felt something in his knee early in the game. He left for good after celebrating Clark's touchdown catch in the third quarter, but UCLA doesn't think the injury happened while Vanderdoes lifted up the 300-pound Clark.
Vanderdoes' injury is particularly painful because he was in stellar shape after an injury-free offseason. Vanderdoes, a native of the Sacramento area, had never had a summer free of high school baseball commitments or offseason injury rehab, allowing him to hit this season at full speed.
McClure plans to put Vanderdoes to work during his rehabilitation. The lineman will study film of the Bruins' upcoming opponents while the team prepares for the current week's opponent, helping his teammates to get an early start.
"It's going to keep him mentally into it," McClure said. "It's going to elevate him. It's going to make him a better football player down the road."
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