UCLA quarterback Patrick Cowan can barely speak, the result, he says, of a blow to the throat he took during Saturday's game at Oregon.
So will it be possible for him to lead the Bruins against Notre Dame at raucous South Bend, Ind., four days from now?
UCLA is preparing for the worst.
At practice Tuesday, the Bruins were using alternative play-calling systems just in case -- something they might have worked on anyway in anticipation of facing Notre Dame's legendary home crowd.
Cowan practiced but did not always call signals because team doctors want to limit his talking for now. To compensate, the Bruins used either center Robert Chai or backup quarterback Osaar Rasshan to call plays in the huddle and cadence at the line of scrimmage.
"We're working on our different plans in case his voice is not what it should be," UCLA Coach Karl Dorrell said. "I like the idea of having Robert being in there because he can get with the communication calls with the audibles and stuff like that with the line. With the receivers, it is easier for them because all they have to do is watch the ball.
"There's a number of ways that we can do it. We'll cover all of our bases just in case he does lose his voice. We'll make sure that we'll be able to operate as well as we can."
Cowan, who did not meet with reporters after practice, said Saturday his voice was down to a whisper by the end of the Oregon game.
"You could tell that he was losing his voice as the game went on, but it wasn't that bad until the end," offensive guard Shannon Tevaga said. "You could still hear him, but the tackles on the outside had a harder time understanding what he said."
If Cowan can't operate at quarterback, UCLA is prepared to go with Rasshan, a redshirt freshman who has yet to take a snap in a college game.
"We're going to have to take care of all the plans," Dorrell said. "Plan B is to have hand signals ready and then C is to have Osaar ready to play."
Rasshan said he was "more than ready," adding, "I know that I'm one play away from getting in."
While Rasshan sometimes called signals for Cowan on Tuesday, he will not be able to help like that during a game. That responsibility would fall to Chai if Cowan is unable to use his voice against Notre Dame.
"It would be a lot of work, but I think I could handle it," Chai said. "I just have to know the offense even better so I can make the calls quicker.
"In practice today, I was doing the cadence along with Osaar, but we will have to see how it goes. I don't think we'll have to do it but if we do, I'll be ready."
Dorrell said Cowan has already shown improvement.
"He can talk, but the more rest we give him over the early portion of the week will help his voice recover a lot faster as we get into the final stages of our game plan," Dorrell said. "We're trying to stick with doctor's orders and the doctors think he's going to be fine.
"He's feeling better and the symptoms are going down.... He'll do some cadence stuff tomorrow, but we just wanted to give him another day of rest."
Quarterback Ben Olson, who suffered a partially torn ligament in his left knee against Arizona on Oct. 7, said he plans to be ready to play when the Bruins play host to Washington State at the Rose Bowl on Oct. 28.
Although UCLA team doctors told him that his injury would sideline him for at least four weeks, Olson said he's ahead of schedule.
"You know your body and what you're capable of and when it's not where it needs to be," he said. "I'm just trying to stay up with everything right now, going through rehab, throwing and keeping up with the game plan.... I just want to be ready because I plan to get back out there."
Middle linebacker Christian Taylor did not practice Tuesday, resting an ankle injury that has bothered him since the Arizona game. He is expected to play against Notre Dame.... Reserve cornerback Michael Norris, sidelined all season because of a knee injury, and backup defensive tackle Chase Moline, who has sat out the last three games because of a back injury, both practiced without any problems.... Offensive tackle Aleksey Lanis, who did not play during the second half against Oregon because of an ankle injury, also practiced.... Wide receiver Joe Cowan, who has been sidelined because of a knee injury since training camp, ran some plays with the scout offense without wearing pads.
UCLA's athletic department made a profit of $16,918 for the fiscal year of 2005-06, according to a report all schools are required to file. UCLA reported total revenue of $50,631,443 and expenses of $50,614,525. It's the second consecutive year and 12th of the last 13 that the athletic department has been in the black.
UCLA will have about 115 former players at the Notre Dame game and has used its allotment of 5,000 tickets. The Bruins' Fan Travel Program will have 1,500 people at the game, including 250 participating in a VIP package that includes a brunch with UCLA's only Heisman Trophy winner, Gary Beban.