UCLA football prepares for the worst, weather-wise

It could be cold and nasty at Washington's Husky Stadium, but UCLA has had success playing in bad weather under Coach Neuheisel.

November 16, 2010|By Ben Bolch and Chris Foster

It could be cold and nasty for UCLA on Thursday evening at Husky Stadium.

The Bruins might prefer it that way.

UCLA has made a habit of winning games in less-than-ideal conditions under Coach Rick Neuheisel.

Temperatures hovered near freezing last November in Pullman, Wash., when UCLA romped to a 43-7 victory over Washington State. Neuheisel had prepared his players for the cold by holding a team meeting the previous night in a snowstorm.

A month later, UCLA trekked to a frosty RFK Stadium in Washington and rallied for a 30-21 victory over Temple in the EagleBank Bowl. The temperature at kickoff was 32 degrees, with a wind-chill factor of 19.

"Over the years," Neuheisel said Tuesday, "UCLA has always gone on the road and … had some success in bad weather."

One of the biggest victories came 20 years ago this month at Husky Stadium, when the Bruins upset No. 2 Washington, 25-22, on a late 43-yard field goal on a windy, rainy day.

The forecast for UCLA's game against Washington on Thursday calls for temperatures in the 40s and a 50% chance of rain. UCLA long snapper Christian Yount prepared for potentially soggy conditions in practice Tuesday by repeatedly squirting the contents of a water bottle on the football before snapping it to holder Danny Rees.

Though Neuheisel said the running game becomes more important in wet weather, "wet doesn't necessarily mean you can't throw it, it just means you have to keep the ball dry."

It's how you … start?

UCLA scored first in only two of its four victories — against Oregon State and Washington State — but Neuheisel said playing well in the early going against Washington "will be important."

Not that it guarantees victory, of course.

"I don't want to put all the eggs that it has to be a perfect start before we can win the game," Neuheisel said. "I want to make sure that everyone knows we're going to play the full 60 minutes and we're going to find a way.

"That's the ultimate challenge for when you're on the road, to go up and hang around and hang around and see if you can take the game over."

Price is right

Sheldon Price, who started the first six games at cornerback, should be available Thursday.

Price suffered a sprained knee against California on Oct. 9.

"The past week has been real crucial as far as me working on it and getting better, stuff like that," said Price, a sophomore. "But I can stop and go, and cut, so I'll be fine."

The Bruins have had only three cornerbacks who are on scholarship available since Price and Anthony Jefferson (broken foot) were injured against Cal, though Neuheisel said that Price was "available in an emergency situation last game."

Price will wear a brace on his right knee during the game, something he said "that I just hate. It's just bad. But it's for protection, so I understand."

Ready to go

Neuheisel said linebacker Steve Sloan, sidelined the last two weeks with a hamstring injury, would return against the Huskies.

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