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UCLA REPORT

Sooners Search for Way Off Bruins' 2003-04 Schedules

September 12, 2002|Steve Henson

UCLA has rebuked attempts by Oklahoma to cancel games against the Bruins in 2003 and 2004. UCLA is scheduled to visit Norman, Okla., next season and play host to the Sooners the following year.

Oklahoma also has Alabama on its schedule next season and a source in Norman said Wednesday the Sooners don't want to play the Crimson Tide and UCLA during the same season. Oklahoma was lucky to escape with a victory over Alabama two weeks ago.

Oklahoma could break its contract with the Bruins but would have to pay UCLA a $500,000 buyout.

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Poor special teams play put a damper on the Bruin victory over Colorado State and has been a point of emphasis all week in practice. UCLA fumbled two kickoffs, missed two field-goal attempts and surrendered a 55-yard punt return.

So after practice Wednesday, kick returners stayed on the field an additional 15 minutes, working on simply catching the ball.

"We've put a lot of time and effort into special teams," Coach Bob Toledo said. "We need guys to perform."

Opportunities to return kicks against Oklahoma State might be few. Kicker Cole Farden has put 11 of 13 kickoffs into the end zone this season.

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Nobody on the UCLA roster is from Oklahoma, but receiver Ryan Smith and defensive tackle Steve Morgan are from Dallas, within driving distance of Stillwater.

About 60 of Smith's relatives and friends are making the trek, including his former coaches and teammates from Marcus High in Flower Mound, Texas.

About 75 Bruins will make the trip, and Smith was chagrined to see the list of players who must stay home. Five of them had promised Smith their allotment of two free tickets.

"Now I've got to tell more of my friends they have to buy their own," he said.

Morgan, who will have about 20 relatives in attendance, was named a game captain by Toledo.

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Asi Faoa received a continuance until Jan. 31, 2003, in his sentencing for a misdemeanor assault conviction a year ago.

The junior defensive tackle, who was sentenced to 180 days in jail more than a year ago, has asked to get into a work furlough program that would allow him to attend classes.

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