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UCLA FOOTBALL FYI

It's been 2 years without a game for quarterback Kevin Prince

UCLA's freshman starter last played a game Aug. 31, 2007, when a knee injury ended his season. Now, he's nervous and excited to be back in the action Saturday against San Diego State.

August 31, 2009|Chris Foster

UCLA quarterback Kevin Prince has reached an anniversary, though it will pass without ice cream and cake. Today makes it exactly two years since he last played in a football game.

Prince expects to be reminded of that fact throughout the week as he prepares for Saturday's game against San Diego State.

Such reminders are hardly necessary.

Prince is well aware that on Aug. 31, 2007, during the sixth play of Encino Crespi High's season, he suffered a season-ending knee injury while trying to avoid Lake Balboa Birmingham's Marquis Jackson.

Then, last season, Prince was a redshirt at UCLA. The long layoff is obviously on his mind before his college debut.

"I'm already thinking about it," Prince said. "The night before, I'll be nervous about getting out there again, playing in front of all those people. I'll be excited too."

Prince has prepared all year for the moment. He won the starting job in spring and had a decent fall camp, though there have been some speed bumps along the way.

Coach Rick Neuheisel said he wanted to see more consistency from Prince, who completed nine of 13 passes for 78 yards and had one pass intercepted in Saturday's scrimmage. Neuheisel's interactions a year ago with starter Kevin Craft often were characterized by intense reprimands on the sideline after poor plays.

During camp this season, Neuheisel seemed to take a bit more of a kid-gloves approach, often ending a critique of Prince's play with, "He's doing fine. He's a freshman."

Offensive coordinator Norm Chow has his own way of handling situations.

"It depends on what kind of mistake it was," Prince said of Chow's reactions. "If it was an obvious mental mistake that I shouldn't have made, he'll get after me. If it's something like missing a throw or something that we can fix easily, he's a lot more supportive."

Chow said the important thing is to understand that Prince "hasn't played a game in two years. Obviously, there is a lot wrapped up inside him. We're going to have to see how he fares and act appropriately."

Most mistakes "you don't worry about until Sunday or Monday when we look at the tape," Chow said. "We move on to the next play."

After two years, Prince is ready to move on.

"Once I get closer to the game, once I start feeling like this is actually going to happen, I'll feel better," Prince said. "It just still seems so far off. Once we get out there and I get hit that first time, I will settle in, and we'll be fine."

Injury report

First-year San Diego State Coach Brady Hoke said the Aztecs will be without tailback Atiyyah Henderson (back injury) and safety Romeo Horn (foot injury) for this week's game.

Tight end Tony DeMartinis has retired from football because of chronic knee problems.

Aztec ruins?

Prince and the Bruins' young offense will be facing a San Diego State team that ranked 113th in total defense out of 119 major-college teams. The Aztecs were 118th in rushing defense and 113th in scoring defense, giving up 37.2 points a game.

The Aztecs return seven starters from that defense.

The early bird . . .

So you want to be an offensive coordinator?

During the season, Chow rises at 3:30 a.m. and is in the football office by 4 a.m., having breakfast at his desk. He said he returns home at "10, 11 or 12" at night, then starts again the next morning.

"It's not that I'm a great worker or anything, I just can't sleep," Chow said. "I can get by on a little sleep, but not all the time. By the end of the week, I'm tired. It's not a big deal."

--

chris.foster@latimes.com

twitter.com/cfosterlatimes

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