Dice sprains knee in practice, out Saturday

By Craig Degel

Arizona Daily Wildcat

If UCLA thinks it has it bad with the suspension of linebacker Donnie Edwards, Arizona may just have it worse.

Wide receiver Richard Dice sprained his left knee in practice yesterday and will miss at least one game.

''We'll know more about that (Wednesday),'' UA head coach Dick Tomey said. ''It was a freak thing, where he planted and just twisted it.''

The Wildcats, coming off a bye week, were practicing for their game against UCLA in Pasadena, Calif., on Saturday. Dice had 21 catches for team highs of 375 yards and five touchdowns.

''Someone will step up. We'll be OK,'' said Tomey, who expects to have receiver Cary Taylor back against UCLA after sitting out two games because of a knee sprain.

UCLA head coach Terry Donahue said he does not anticipate linebacker Donnie Edwards being able to play against Arizona. Edwards was declared ineligible after being named in the investigation of players receiving gifts from California agent Robert T. Caron.

UCLA planned to petition the NCAA to reinstate Edwards as soon as possible.

After a week to dry off, Arizona will jump back into the pool this weekend against UCLA for a Pacific 10 Conference showdown at the Rose Bowl.

"We're good at time off," Arizona head coach Dick Tomey said. "It's my favorite time. It helps to have a week off in the middle of the season."

It's not hard to see why. Despite having the week off, the Wildcats are still a bit banged-up on the offensive line. Left tackle Ian McCutcheon sprained the medial collateral ligament in his left knee against Cal and is out for at least three weeks. Center Mani Ott sprained an ankle against the Golden Bears but should be ready for the Bruins, while offensive guard Frank Middleton is still suffering from the sprained knee he injured against Illinois.

"Mani's still hobbling and Frank is not practicing," Tomey said. "Wayne Wyatt will probably start."

Wyatt substituted for Ott at center against Cal and will probably be called upon to play left tackle against UCLA.

The team spent its bye week practicing against the Oregon State offensive configuration. Redshirt transfer Leon Blunt ran the Oregon State offense against UA's top-ranked defensive unit. The Beavers run the wishbone offense, which the Wildcats have not faced this year but will see Saturday in Pasadena.

"UCLA runs the option," Tomey said. "In fact, they're damn good at it."

The game will be a test for an Arizona defensive front that for the most part has been underachieving this season.

Tomey ended any speculation that may have still existed by saying Dan White is still Arizona's number one quarterback.

"I think he's really underappreciated," Tomey said. "He's had some bad games but any quarterback's going to have some."

Tomey also said backup Brady Batten has proved he can do the job if the need arises.

"He has thrust himelf into a position of being a relief pitcher," Tomey said. "He hadn't proved anything in practice, so we weren't sure what he was going to do (against Cal)."

Tomey made no attempt to downplay the importance of Saturday's matchup. Both the Bruins and the Wildcats are 3-2, but the difference is Arizona is 1-1 in the Pac-10 while UCLA is 0-2 after losses to Oregon and Washington State.

"I think that 0-2 speaks to the difficulty of the league," Tomey said. "Not having their quarterback situation settled has contributed. There's a huge difference between being 4-2 overall and 3-3 overall after Saturday's game."

Tomey said that Armon Williams can expect to see extended playing time at the whip linebacker position against UCLA. Tight end Tim Thomas will also be available for spot duty after being out since late August with a knee sprain.

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