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Players assess UCLA's dismal record on the road

The Bruins have won five of their last 22 games away from the Rose Bowl. UCLA gets a chance to improve that mark against Tennessee on Saturday.

September 12, 2009|Chris Foster

KNOXVILLE, TENN. — It's hardly a statistic that makes UCLA's seniors puff out their chests: The Bruins have won five of their last 22 football games away from the Rose Bowl.

"Ugh, that's the stat?" senior defensive end Korey Bosworth said.

Yup, surprised?

"Not really," senior tight end Logan Paulsen said. "Since I've been here, we have traditionally struggled on the road. Every year our goal is to play better on the road. Hopefully this will be the year."

UCLA gets its chance starting today, when the Bruins play Tennessee in Knoxville.

"Regardless if the game is in front of 50 people, 200,000 people, a million people, football is still going to be football," senior linebacker Reggie Carter said. "Let them watch the game and if we play the game then we should be fine."

The reasons for their lack of success vary, according to the players.

There have been letdowns.

"I remember countless times where we gave up a big play that has hurt us the rest of the game," senior cornerback Alterraun Verner said.

There have been shell-shock moments.

"You're going into a new environment," Paulsen said. "Sometimes guys get star-struck walking into a new stadium and they hear the crowd noise."

There have been mistakes.

"We've beaten ourselves," Carter said. "We have made a lot of mental errors."

The solution?

Carter: "Stay composed."

Paulsen: "Be mature."

Verner: "Stay disciplined."

More Morrell?

Neuheisel would like to get speedy freshmen Morrell Presley, Randall Carroll and Damien Thigpen entirely up to speed. All appeared in the season opener, but none played a significant role in the 33-14 victory over San Diego State.

Presley is a particularly desirable commodity because his speed and 6-foot-4, 219-pound frame can cause matchup problems.

"He just needs to be more comfortable with assignments and the nuances of the position," Neuheisel said. "He's a guy who can impact a game."

Neuheisel spent extra time this week working individually with Presley on improving his catching ability.

"They want me to think, but not think too much to where I don't know what I'm doing," Presley said. "It's hard to go from high school, being dominating and getting the ball every other play, and then go start at the bottom. When I get a chance, I have to embrace it."

Punch line

Offensive line coach Bob Palcic smiled and said his unit "already set a record this season."

That being? "We're starting the same line in back-to-back games," Palcic said. The Bruins used nine line combinations in 12 games last season.

While the same group will start this week as did against San Diego State, freshman Stanley Hasiak could see more game time.


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