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UCLA REPORT

Texas El Paso Eyes Axman

December 14, 2003|Eric Stephens | Times Staff Writer

Offensive coordinator Steve Axman interviewed with Texas El Paso officials Thursday morning in Westwood for their football coaching vacancy.

Axman met with UTEP Athletic Director Bob Stull and said he expects the school to make a decision sometime next week.

"Every time I've come out of an interview, I always think that I could have done better, but I thought I answered all their questions well," said Axman, in the first year of his second stint as UCLA's coordinator. "I had a pretty good plan.... Hopefully it's a plan that they like."

Axman, who was the head coach at Northern Arizona in 1990-97, has made no secret about his desire to become a head coach again. He said he made that clear to UCLA Coach Karl Dorrell.

"That's something that I was up front with him about," Axman said. "He's supported me 100% in that endeavor."

Former Hawaii and Arizona coach Dick Tomey appears to have emerged as a leading candidate for the job. Tomey is an assistant with the San Francisco 49ers.

Other finalists include Texas Christian offensive coordinator Mike Schultz, Philadelphia Eagle offensive line coach Juan Castillo, Auburn defensive coordinator Gene Chizik and Oklahoma tight end coach Kevin Sumlin.

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The Bruins got a scare when left tackle Steven Vieira injured his right knee during a practice drill and was later on crutches.

"We're hoping that it's nothing serious but we did back him out," Dorrell said.

"We won't know until the doctor checks it out. Hopefully it's not too bad."

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Free safety Ben Emanuel continues to be bothered by a strained groin suffered in the USC game.

Dorrell said it could take two to four weeks for Emanuel to recover and that he is "50-50" in his availability for the Silicon Valley Classic on Dec. 30 against Fresno State.

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Cornerback Marcus Cassel, tailback Akil Harris and punter Chris Kluwe all sat out practice because of flu symptoms.

Defensive tackle Rodney Leisle, still not at full strength because of a sprained ankle, did some light jogging and might be back in pads Monday.

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