Walker will lead football squad to Las Vegas Bowl

By Sam Allen Daily Bruin

December 10, 2007

Los Angeles, CA (CSTV U-WIRE) --

All of a sudden, DeWayne Walker is sounding like a head coach.

After the dismissal of Karl Dorrell last week, Walker took over as interim head coach. His task is twofold, preparing the Bruins (6-6, 5-4 Pac-10) for their Dec. 22 matchup against No. 19 BYU (10-2, 8-0 MWC) at the Pioneer Las Vegas Bowl and convincing the team's recruits to stick around.

Walker, who has been UCLA's defensive coordinator for the past two seasons, is also expected to interview with UCLA as a candidate to replace Dorrell. The athletic department has hired a search firm, and interviews are expected to begin early this week.

A long list of candidates has been reported since Dorrell's ouster; Texas Tech coach Mike Leach, former NFL coach Steve Mariucci and Tennessee Titans offensive coordinator Norm Chow are perhaps the most notable of those candidates.

But for now it's Walker who has the reins. He led his first two practices on Saturday and Sunday, and seemed pleased with the results.

"I thought it went pretty smooth," Walker said after Sunday's practice at Spaulding Field. "I was more concerned with the tempo and guys moving around. It appeared to be pretty good today."

The practice Sunday was energetic, with Walker moving around the practice field a lot. Afterwards, Walker seemed to be comfortable with his new role as head coach and defensive coordinator.

"I've always been the type to try to run through it myself and then evaluate it," Walker said. "If I have any questions, I'll make some phone calls if I need to.

"I'm an energy guy so I am trying to keep up with both hats, so far so good."

The Bruins' preparation for the Las Vegas Bowl is still at a preliminary stage. Walker said he has already begun his preparation, and that his assistants will meet today to begin discussing the game.

Because of final exams, the team will not practice again until Friday, eight days before the game.

Walker hasn't named a starting quarterback for the game either. Pat Cowan didn't practice Saturday or Sunday because of a knee injury. Ben Olson and Osaar Rasshan took reps with the first team.

"Right now we're just working," Walker said. "It's all about the work right now. We'll know more as we start preparing for the game."

The BYU-UCLA matchup is an unusual one for a bowl game because the two teams have already met this season. The Bruins beat the Cougars on Sept. 8 at the Rose Bowl, 27-17.

The two teams went in opposite directions after that contest. UCLA went on to lose six of its last 10 games. BYU finished the year on a 10-game win streak and won the Mountain West Conference.

"They have a great system and they know what they're doing," Walker said. "They're just a solid football team."

DORRELL'S FUTURE: Last week, Sportsillustrated.com reported that Dorrell is a candidate for the head coaching vacancy at Duke University.

The Blue Devils fired their coach Ted Roof after his team finished 1-11 this season. Roof had an overall record of 6-45 at the school.

Duke has not had a winning season since 1994.

BRUINS AWARDED: A few Bruins picked up some postseason honors over the weekend.

Cornerback Trey Brown and defensive end Bruce Davis were named second-team All-Americans by the Walter Camp Football Foundation.

Another pair of Bruins were named to the Pac-10 All-Academic team; lineman Chris Joseph and cornerback Alterraun Verner. Joseph, a senior geography student, has a 3.95 GPA.

At the UCLA team banquet last Wednesday, wide receiver Brandon Breazell and safety Dennis Keyes were named the team's most valuable players.

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