UCLA defense looks all too familiar to Huskies' coach

Updated: October 3, 2003, 2:03 PM ET

PASADENA, Calif. -- UCLA's defense looks all too familiar to Washington coach Keith Gilbertson.

"I think their front seven is as good as Ohio State's front seven right now," Gilbertson said.

The Huskies didn't manage much offense against the Buckeyes in their season opener, with their running game limited to 7 yards in the 28-9 loss at Columbus.

Gilbertson, whose No. 18 Huskies (3-1, 1-0 Pac-10) face UCLA (2-2) at the Rose Bowl on Saturday, also is familiar with many of the players on UCLA's defense.

"We've played against these guys; they are all very experienced. The Ball brothers (twins Dave and Mat) have been playing since 2000. Rodney Leisle and (Ryan) Boschetti, they've played a lot of football against us. Matt Ware seems like he's been there for 100 years," the Huskies coach said.

"It is a quality, quality defense. They have a great defensive scheme, and (coordinator) Larry Kerr is one of the top defensive people in the country. When you put him and that staff with that quality bunch of athletes, he's tough to move against."

UCLA's defense is ranked first in the Pac-10 and 14th nationally in total defense, allowing an average of 278 yards a game.

The Bruins won't have Leisle in the game until the second half. The defensive tackle is suspended for the first half because he was ejected for fighting in the closing minutes of last weekend's win over San Diego State.

Asked about Leisle, Gilbertson quipped, "Well, I was hoping he would punch the guy twice."

Since the Bruins' defense seems difficult to run against, the Huskies (3-1, 1-0 Pac-10) may rely heavily on the passing of Cody Pickett to wide receiver Reggie Williams.

Pickett has thrown for 1,010 yards and five touchdowns this year. Williams has 28 receptions for 415 yards and four scores.

UCLA first-year coach Karl Dorrell called Pickett one of the better quarterbacks in the conference.

"When you have a senior who's a multiyear starting quarterback coming back, he's been through the seasoning," Dorrell said. "He proved himself last year. Even though he had a bump in the road early this year, there is no doubt that this kid can play."

Then there is Williams, an agile 6-foot-4, 225-pounder.

"He is able to produce every week and he has been able to do that for the past two or three years," Dorrell said. "I don't think there is ever a way of shutting him down. You just want to try to manage him to where he can't hurt you when he wants to hurt you."

Drew Olson is expected to start at quarterback again for the Bruins. Matt Moore, who started the season opener but has been sidelined since then by a bruised bone in his left leg, was back at practice this week. Dorrell, however, said there was only a slim chance that Moore would play against the Huskies.

Olson, a sophomore, threw for a career-high 258 yards in the Bruins' 20-10 victory over San Diego State.

The game against the Huskies is UCLA's Pac-10 opener, and Dorrell said the conference race already looks very competitive.

"Just judging from the first week, there's a lot of parity. There's a lot of teams that you think are real good and they had a bad week and vice versa," he said. "That's what I like about this conference -- you can't predict a lot of things.

"In any given week, you can be beat. You've got to be ready to play every Saturday. This is our first Saturday in the Pac-10 schedule and we better be ready to play."

Washington is favored by one point in the 6:30 p.m. EDT game.

This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index