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Comeback Kids ...

We have the great hoops recruiting news covered in a separate post. Let's keep this Friday roundup focused on pigskin. Lots of news and notes before game day. And theme seems to be players who are working on having big "comeback" seasons:

Bruin flanker Junior Taylor was not happy with his comeback performance against Utah. From the OC Register:

UCLA's senior flanker caught two passes for 22 yards in the Bruins' victory Saturday against Utah, both for first downs. But he also had two dropped passes, one that would have gone for a touchdown.

It was not the way he wanted to come back for his final year of college football after surgery to repair the torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee.

"Obviously, I was very disappointed," he said. "I worked so hard to get back and that's not the way I wanted to come back. But you won't see that anymore." [...]

"It's just getting back up to speed," he said of his opening-game performance. "When I watched the tape it didn't look like I was moving slow or anything, but there still was that tenth of a second of hesitation in some of the things I did.

"It wasn't because of my knee, by any means. It's just because I have to get used to that fast speed again. This week it will be a lot better.

"I was really upset. That's not the way I wanted to start off the season and I never want to let my teammates or my coaches down. I was embarrassed, but it's over now."
JT just needs to relax and focus. He will get his chances to make an impact:

Photo: OC Register

We now have a QB who will throw it/place it right in between his numbers. He will get his chances.  I am not too worried about JT. He will come back to form before the conference games kick in. And Rice would be the perfect game to get it all figured out.

JT is not the only one working his way back in after bout with injuries. Kevin Brown missed all last season and had nagging injury in the training camp. He had a pretty good game last Saturday and he talked about it with Lonnie White of LA Times:
[A]fter sitting out last season because of a left ankle injury that required surgery, Brown found himself playing with the second unit in UCLA's 31-10 victory over Utah last week.

"It's not important for me to start, not at all," said Brown, who was a preseason candidate for the Bednarik Award as the nation's top defender and the Lombardi Award for top lineman. "With this defense, I know that I'm playing. Last week, I had 18 plays in the game, which is as much as everyone else. So, it really doesn't matter. I'm not concerned about notoriety."

Playing behind Brigham Harwell and Kenneth Lombard -- who started at the tackle positions in UCLA's 4-3 defense against Utah -- Brown still made an impact with three tackles, including two for losses.

"I played OK," said Brown, a former standout at Long Beach Poly High. "I was nervous in the beginning because I didn't know what to expect. I didn't know if I had it still or not."

Brown's ability to get into Utah's backfield stood out last week and as a result, he teamed with Lombard, working with the first team in practice most of the week.

But whether he's a starter or a reserve, Brown said he'll be ready to show what he can do against Rice on Saturday.
If this kid stays healthy he will emerge as one of the best, not just in the Pac-10, but in the entire nation. It would be sweet to see a dominating performance from Brown and his linemates tomorrow night at the Rose Bowl.

Speaking of Brown's linemates, there is also Nikola Dragovic, who is also working on his comeback from injuries, and making progress. From Dohn:
Dragovic's progression: Bruins junior defensive end Nikola Dragovic made his return from reconstructive knee surgery against Utah, but didn't get the playing time he wanted. Dragovic was in on 15 plays, and made three tackles.

Dragovic, who started the first four games in 2005, talked to coach Karl Dorrell about playing time.

"We talked about my whole situation, and he said, `We want to ease you into this. We can't just throw you out there,' " Dragovic said. "So game by game, I think I'm going to be getting more and more reps. I feel good, but I'll be honest. I have off days where I'm just kind of slow, which is normal."

Dragovic said he is also dealing with the mental aspect of the recovery, which is normally six to eight months before football-related activity can begin. He had surgery in October.

"What they don't tell is that you won't really feel the same for about a year," Dragovic said. "A lot of plays I feel great. I feel like myself. I'll have two or three good ones, then an off one. Not that I screwed up, but I don't look as explosive."

A sign of Dragovic's improving health came Thursday, when he practiced with the first-team defense, ahead of Justin Hickman.
Nice to see the football team's "Serbian Assassin" (hey anything about offensive about this particular nickname?) coming around.

Someone, who doesn't have to worry about "comebacks" - freshman Terrance Austin. Dohn notes expect to see a lot of Austin tomorrow. He may be getting his first look at punt returns.

Also, another kid who is not worrying about comebacks is LB Arron Whittington. The junior from MO has secured a starting spot after playing in a "fill-in" role all of last season. Lonnie White has a profile on UCLA starting outside LB.

Lastly, yes I took note of what happened at Corvallis last night. Now you know how valuable those pre-season predictions are. CFN picked the Beavers to finish 3rd in the Pac-10 (tied for 3rd) ahead of UCLA. Also amusing to note the brains at Morgan Center had Mike Riley pegged as their favorite candidate, and there were lot of morons on message boards who were absolutely convinced that Matt Moore was a better quarterback than Drew Olson. Anyways ... at this point ... water under the bridge. I do wish the Beavers get it together soon.  Otherwise, they are looking at the loooong, miserable, rainy fall in that part of the Evergreen State.

Meanwhile, we just need to keep winning.