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ZTF's Return Against UCLA Was a Huge Victory in Itself

The Huskies didn't win on the scoreboard, but they did in the long run by getting their fearsome edge rusher back.

After getting shoved all the way to Ballard on his first play against Zion Tupuola-Fetui, UCLA offensive tackle Alec Anderson must have felt a little fortunate as he gathered himself. 

It was sort of like someone who survives a car wreck and gathers his wits about him.

After all, the 6-foot-5, 305-pound Anderson had to be wondering right then and there, "How good is this dude when he's not coming off an Achilles rip?"

Tupuola-Fetui, six months after blowing a tire and getting it fixed, came fully ready to play against the Bruins. 

The outside linebacker was absolutely fearsome in the 24-17 defeat, showing no signs of easing his way back into Pac-12 mortal combat. 

The player known as ZTF just put his head down and tried to destroy everything that got in his way. He pulled 10 well-spaced-out snaps. Most were single third-down rushes, though he stayed on for a short series right before halftime. 

"It's awesome, with flying colors, and I probably would have said that with him taking one rep," Husky coach Jimmy Lake said. "There's not many people who can come back from that injury in six months and go out there and play in a college football game at that level." 

Zion Tupuola-Fetui drew 10 plays against UCLA in his return.

Zion Tupuola-Fetui looked fit and trim in his return.

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The 6-foot-4, 260-pound sophomore from Pearl City, Hawaii, didn't show up in the defensive stats, but UCLA quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson knew whenever he was in. 

On those sporadic plays, the Bruins leader couldn't get comfortable standing in the pocket. 

ZTF, a first-team All-Pac-12 selection, looked sleek and trim once he took the field for pregame warmups, with his purple jersey rolled up revealing his midriff. 

Once the game began, he furiously rode an exercise bike to get loose, likely knowing he was going to make an immediate game appearance.

Anderson encountered him six plays into UCLA's first offensive series and every so often thereafter. ZTF's debut was considered a big success. 

He'll continue to add reps each game until he's deemed ready to start again. 

"He came out of the game healthy," Lake said, finding great comfort in having the player back in action, "and I would expect for him to have more plays this Friday night."

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