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Kia's back pain gets Baca into the game

September 21, 2008|Chris Foster | Times Staff Writer

UCLA tackle Micah Kia left the 31-10 loss to Arizona after the first half because of back pain. He said he would be examined today.

"I have a history of back problems," Kia said. "It flared up pretty bad in the second quarter and was hindering my performance."

That gave freshman Jeff Baca his first college game experience. Baca played the remainder of the game at left tackle.

"There was a minute left in halftime and Coach goes, 'Baca, you're in,' " Baca said. "[Guard] Scott Glicksberg came over to me and said, 'You know the stuff, just play.' I was nervous in my stance for that first play. After it, I was playing big-time college football."

Besides Baca, tailback Derrick Coleman and defensive end Datone Jones made their college debuts, bringing the number of freshmen who have played for the Bruins this year to 11.

Running down the road

The Bruins gained 111 yards rushing after having only 38 in their first two games. Chane Moline accounted for 40 on one run, setting up a 35-yard field by Kai Forbath just before halftime.

"You don't know how good it felt to see Chane ripping it up on that play," tackle Nick Ekbatani said. "I want more of those."

So does offensive line coach Bob Palcic.

Keeping the faith

Coach Rick Neuheisel tried to take some of the heat off quarterback Kevin Craft after the loss at the Rose Bowl. Craft threw for only 81 yards as the Bruins failed to score an offensive touchdown for the second consecutive game.

"When you're the quarterback, you don't get to hide," Neuheisel said. "It's easy to say that he must be the reason you're unsuccessful. Kevin works hard, and I hope he can continue to work hard and continue to improve.

"Just like all positions on the team, we're going to evaluate them and keep working to find answers."

Not closing the deal

There wasn't anything mysterious about the shoddy special teams play that contributed mightily to UCLA's loss.

"Missed tackles," special teams coach Frank Gansz Jr. said. "Guys not wrapping up, not squeezing."

The day had started so well for Gansz and his players, with Aaron Perez booming long punts to trap Arizona at the two- and one-yard line.

The second punt led directly to UCLA's recovering a fumble in the end zone for a 7-3 lead.

But the Bruins also suffered a costly turnover, returner Terrence Austin mishandling a punt, his fumble leading to an Arizona field goal. And as the game progressed, UCLA surrendered 162 yards in punt returns, including three by Arizona's Mike Thomas that led to touchdowns.

"The momentum changed," Thomas said. "That can make or break a game."

Training room report

Tailback Kahlil Bell, who was a game-time decision because of a sprained ankle, did not play. Wide receiver Nelson Rosario (strained knee), defensive tackle Jerzy Siewerski (neck injury) and tailback Aundre Dean (ankle) also sat out.

Tailback Jonathan Franklin did not suit up because of a coach's decision.

Tight end Corey Harkey suffered a sprained ankle early in the game but continued to play. Linebacker John Hale also sprained an ankle.


Times staff writer David Wharton contributed to this report.


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