The question was, how would the cold affect Kevin Prince’s throwing shoulder?
UCLA’s redshirt freshman quarterback sprained his AC joint in his right shoulder against USC on Nov. 28 and has been working toward full recovery for the last few weeks. Nagged by discomfort, his progress was slow and steady, but that was in the relative warmth of Westwood.
Now he’s in the cold of Washington, D.C., as the Bruins prepare for their EagleBank Bowl matchup on Tuesday with Temple.
The answer, at least from him after Saturday’s practice – UCLA’s first on the east coast – was to be expected.
He says he’s good to go.
“It’s the best it’s been,” said Prince, who threw for 1,829 yards and six touchdowns in nine starts this year. “A couple days off for rest helped a lot, and hopefully it will continue to keep up like that. We don’t have all the resources that we have back at home in terms of treatment, but I think they’ll be able to maintain it enough for me to be fine without it hurting.”
For the past several practices, Prince said the issue wasn’t so much pain as it was discomfort, a nagging pinch when he attempted to throw certain passes.
His biggest issues were with pass attempts across his body and on the run, but on Saturday, he struggled more about the basic throws in 7-on-7 drills. After a handful of erratic throws, however, Prince settled into a groove.
“Today I was able to do that kind of stuff pretty well,” Prince said. “Still a tiny pinch, but nothing that would even concern me. Especially once you get into battle and start playing in the heat of the game, you don’t even pay attention to that kind of stuff.”
UCLA head coach Rick Neuheisel said Prince would be the starter against the Owls, with senior quarterback Kevin Craft backing him up. Craft started three games this year, completing 60-of-107 passes for 722 yards and two touchdowns, and has looked efficient in his repetitions during bowl practice.
“He looked improved; no question, a couple days of rest has been good for him,” UCLA head coach Rick Neuheisel said. “He’ll be our guy. There was one today where he was on the run and made a great throw down the field to (sophomore wide receiver Nelson Rosario). That had been the one where he’d been wincing just two days ago. Today, no pain.”
After one practice in the cold, Prince was reminded of the need to stay sharp on the sidelines during his breaks in the game, particularly after one run.
“You have to be able to stay focused and make sure you’re not going in there cold,” Prince said. “We had special teams period for 15 minutes, and I was just standing there with the other quarterbacks – we didn’t run around or anything – and then I go do a quarterback draw and I felt slower than I had in I don’t know how long. It reminds you that you have to stay loose and make sure you’re ready to go.”=