UCLA’s Reggie Carter and Kai Forbath picked up Pac-10 player of the week honors for their respective performances on Saturday at Tennessee.
On the coaches job during tough practices:
“You’ve got to keep pushing, you’ve got to keep on them. I want the coaching staff to understand that’s what we’re doing here. We will reap the benefits when we start to freshen them up, which will be our job over the weekend. I like where we are, I like how we’re fighting, scratching and clawing. But we have to push through these tougher days as we go forward.”
On Jeff Locke’s availability if Kai Forbath went down:
“It’s a nice insurance policy, but Kai Forbath is one of the best in the country. We would miss Kai.”
On how UCLA is preparing for SDSU, particularly the Aztec coordinators’ experience with UCLA:
“You’re basically going on things of the past. It’s a little bit of an educated guess. We’ve gone back that far, absolutely. They may wax nostalgic being back in the Rose Bowl.”
With two-a-days over, here’s a brief rundown on how many of the injured stand. Some on crutches.
Micah Kia, torn ACL, out for season
Nick Ekbatani, sprained knee ligament, 4-6 weeks
Keenan Graham, broken jaw (suffered in scrimmage), no timetable
Christian Ramirez, high ankle sprain (scrimmage), no timetable
Morrell Presley, sore quad, should return soon
Kai Forbath, sore leg, back tomorrow
Some good, some bad.
After Saturday’s up-and-down performance on special teams, I figured I should catch up with Coach Gansz.
A brief recap: With Kai Forbath nursing a sore kicking leg, Jeff Locke stepped in and was excellent. Locke locked up (sorry, had to) the punting duties with several nice boots, including a coffin-corner kick that bounced out at the 1-yard line. Locke also added field goals of 53, 35 and 23 yards, and Gansz said he will help contribute on kickoffs, as well.
With two long touchdown returns – one by freshman Damien Thigpen and another by redshirt sophomore Courtney Viney – Gansz was excited by the possibility of added depth in the return game behind Terrence Austin.
On what he liked on Saturday:
“We were working against a look squad, but I was excited that our return game did big things. We expect it; we’re faster, we’ve got guys who know what they’re doing, we’re much more detailed with our work. We’re going to have those plays. We expect them.”
On the decision to redshirt Thigpen or use him:
“That won’t be my decision, that’ll be a staff decision, but he’s an explosive athlete. We saw that when we recruited him. It didn’t surprise me. We see it on the practice field all the time. He’s explosive and instinctive and very impressive.”
On Austin’s role in the return game:
“Terrence is the guy right now. But you’re going to need to have, as it bears out with most teams, a lot of depth. This gives us that. Terrence is definitely our guy, but obviously when you have a lot of guys who can run, it gives you some options to do different things with those guys.”
On Locke’s performance and the possibility of more playing time for the redshirt freshman:
“You need to have Plan B guys. He gives you that. He gives you another guy who can get it done if you need him. Jeff’s a talented guy. We feel good about him. That’s when you become good, when you start to have multiple guys who can step in and get it done.”