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UCLA FYI

UCLA's Christian Ramirez needs a good Saturday

Slowed for a week with a sore left hamstring, the tailback needs to perform well in a Saturday night scrimmage in order to outpace some up-and-coming running backs, Coach Rick Neuheisel says.

August 22, 2009|Chris Foster

Kevin Prince has a difficult task, and a simple assignment.

He has been handed an offense that averaged 17.7 points a game, the fewest for a UCLA team since 1971. Yet, that weight has not been dumped entirely on his shoulders for tonight's scrimmage, which begins at 5 p.m. at Drake Stadium.

"He just needs to be a guy who manages the game," offensive coordinator Norm Chow said. "We don't need heroics. We need him to make the right calls, make the right adjustments."

Prince's first go-round as UCLA's quarterback was a struggle during April's spring scrimmage. He missed on his first six passes, one of which was intercepted.

After the shaky start, Prince completed 11 of 18 passes for 134 yards and one touchdown.

"I hadn't played on that kind of stage in a while," said Prince, a redshirt freshman who has not played in a game since the season opener his senior year at Encino Crespi High.

"I felt like I was running around with my head cut off out there [in spring]. I made some dumb mistakes."

That was then, this is now.

"I think I have shown some progression since the spring," Prince said. "I have to relax, move the ball and get first downs."

Prince enters the game with a sore arm, which limited his practice time Friday.

He was unconcerned, saying, "I had the same thing in the spring. It's nothing."

Prince said that he started re-taking anti-inflammatory medication Friday.

He had been on that medication at times during spring and summer, but recently had stopped.

"We want him to get used to being out there with the lights and the fans," Coach Rick Neuheisel said.

"Regardless, he is going to have freshman-itis. We're going to have to live with that."

On the run

Christian Ramirez ran hard in Friday's second practice, giving his sore left hamstring a test before the scrimmage. Ramirez still tops the depth chart at tailback, but he has practiced little this week.

The tailbacks behind him have been gaining ground. Derek Coleman was already considered tailback 1-A, but redshirt freshmen Johnathan Franklin and Milton Knox are showing improvement.

"He has to play and play a significant amount tomorrow," Neuheisel said of Ramirez. "With four backs, if we get 80-90 plays, I hope he can get somewhere around 10 carries. . . . We can't sit around and put a blind eye to the way the other kids are running."

Ramirez, a junior, was academically ineligible last season and missed nearly all of spring practice because of a pulled right hamstring.

He is well aware that he could use a good showing in the scrimmage.

"It's one thing to know what you're doing, it's another thing to do it," Ramirez said.

Line shuffling

Mike Harris worked at right tackle Friday morning.

"Mike is my third tackle, so he has to know both spots," offensive line coach Bob Palcic said. That was part of the fallout after senior offensive lineman Micah Kia suffered a season-ending knee injury Wednesday.

UCLA's current starting line -- tackle Xavier Su'a-Filo, guard Stanley Hasiak, center Kai Maiava, guard Eddie Williams and tackle Jeff Baca -- is close to being set in stone. Coaches will also explore other options at guard in case Hasiak struggles.

One move available to them is putting Maiava at guard, where he started nine games for Colorado in 2007, and play community college transfer Ryan Taylor at center.

Quick hits

Defensive tackle Jerzy Siewierski (back), wide receiver Gavin Ketchum (hamstring), defensive end Korey Bosworth and kicker Kai Forbath (sore right leg) will not participate in the scrimmage. . . . Kenny Stills, a wide receiver from Carlsbad La Costa Canyon High, said that he is considering a scholarship offer from UCLA.

--

chris.foster@latimes.com

twitter.com/cfosterlatimes

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