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COLLEGE FOOTBALL / DAILY REPORT : UCLA : Hicks Sidelined by Knee Injury

August 16, 1995|STEVE SPRINGER

UCLA junior tailback Skip Hicks underwent arthroscopic surgery to remove torn cartilage in his left knee Tuesday. He is expected to be sidelined for at least four weeks.

It's the same knee on which Hicks had major surgery 1 1/2 years ago to repair a torn ligament suffered while competing in the long jump. He had been UCLA's leading rusher as a freshman in 1993, running for 604 yards, a 5.6-yard average and five touchdowns.

Hicks was injured again on Sunday, the first day of practice. He sat out Monday, then was given an MRI on Tuesday that revealed the extent of the injury.

Hicks made it back into the lineup on Oct. 1 of last year, served as the backup to starter Karim Abdul-Jabbar (then Sharmon Shah), and wound up with 180 yards rushing and three touchdowns.

Hicks had been expected to push Abdul-Jabbar for the starting job this season.

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It's just one word at the top of UCLA's 1995 schedule: Miami

But the very sight of it is enough to shake loose the rust and shake off any complacency from the Bruins.

Tuesday was only the third day of practice at Spaulding Field. Nobody had yet put on their full supply of pads or made full contact with a teammate.

But everybody was already running at full speed, knowing they'd be running into the Miami Hurricanes, a perennial national powerhouse, in only 2 1/2 weeks. The Hurricanes finished last season ranked sixth nationally and are 11th in this year's AP preseason poll.

UCLA Coach Terry Donahue has mixed feelings about starting off against such an imposing foe.

"When you play a Cal State Fullerton or a Long Beach State," Donahue said, "you feel you should win, so you can play all your players and you can gain confidence.

"When we know that, two weeks from Saturday, we are going to play the Hurricanes, the kids pay much more attention and are working harder right out of the box. The players can draw a lot of confidence if they can come out on top in a game like that. It can catapult you into a good year. You can become a great team because you believe you're a great team."

Linebacker Donnie Edwards welcomes the challenge.

"I'd rather start against a Miami, a Notre Dame or a Michigan," he said. "If you start against a weak team, you are not going to know how good you are. If you beat a Miami, you know you are going to have a good season.

"You can tell we are going to play a good team. It's like an aroma around here. Everybody is hyped up. Even though the legs are tired, there is a lot of emotion. We don't want to embarrass ourselves."

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The Bruins will work out in full gear for the first time today. . . . The team will hold a scrimmage at the Rose Bowl Saturday. The public is invited free of charge. Gates open at 4 p.m. with the scrimmage due to start at 5 and last around two hours. Donahue is trying to approximate game conditions for the Sept. 2 Rose Bowl matchup with Miami, starting Saturday's scrimmage at the same time as the scheduled kickoff against the Hurricanes.

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