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Inside College Football | UCLA REPORT

Fikse Enjoying the Extra Work

November 14, 2002|Steve Henson | Times Staff Writer

Nate Fikse has pulled triple duty in the past. In high school, for example, he starred on a club soccer team, played bass guitar in a jazz band and surfed on weekends.

Less varied but equally remarkable is his workload the last three weeks for UCLA. Fikse punts, kicks field goals and kicks off. And he does all three at an admirably high level.

"He's getting a lot of interest from the pros because he can do it all," Coach Bob Toledo said.

Fikse's work last summer with former Bruin kicker Chris Sailer is paying off. He has made all 10 of his field-goal attempts since taking over for Chris Griffith three games ago, including a 51-yarder last week against Arizona.

He is third in the Pacific 10 in punting with a 41.5 average. Only 14 of his last 44 punts have been returned.

And most of his kickoffs are like letters thrown in the mail with the top left corner blank -- nonreturnable. "Doing all three jobs was hard the first week I kicked field goals because there was the anxiety of doing that," Fikse said. "Since then, it hasn't been bad."

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Manuel White was as pleased with his 27 yards rushing against Arizona as Tyler Ebell was with his 124. White, who returned after missing four games because of a hamstring injury, displayed his signature power-running style, carrying several defenders on a nine-yard run and scoring on a one-yard plunge.

"It felt great just to play," he said. "And the more carries I got, the better it was. I enjoyed blocking too. I just enjoyed the contact."

White should play more against USC. He is listed as the starting fullback on the depth chart. "He is trying just to get his legs back, but when he got his hands on the ball, he was trying to make up for some lost time," Toledo said.

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