There is one UCLA player who knows what awaits the Bruins on Saturday in Manhattan, Kan.
Wide receiver Josh Smith has been there, playing for a Colorado team that was scorched by Kansas State, 47-20, in 2007.
"That is one of the hardest places to play in the Big 12 Conference," said Smith, who had two receptions for 70 yards in the game. "We went in there undefeated in conference, having just beaten Baylor and Oklahoma, and they beat us bad. That crowd came to pull it over."
Smith, who will be making his UCLA debut, has schooled his new teammates on the pratfalls of playing in what Southern Californians might consider the middle of nowhere. Fans at Kansas Sate have few distractions to take their minds off football.
"The 'Purple People Eaters' are always aggressive," Smith said of the crowd. "We got to be ready for that. They got their little section where they get creative and talk a whole lot of stuff."
"They are liable to say all kind of things, you know, 'blah, blah, blah,' " Smith said.
If the Bruins win the coin toss, Smith could be the first UCLA player to touch the football Saturday. He is the team's kickoff returner.
Center Kai Maiava led the team in a Samoan war chant before Thursday's practice. He will undergo surgery on his broken left ankle Friday, with a plate and screws being placed in the bone to help it heal.
Maiava, a junior, said he should be able to put pressure on the leg in two to three weeks and be back in six to eight weeks, though he added, "I'd be ready, but I don't know if I'll be football-ready.
"They said I should be ready by the last three games, but I don't know."
Maiava has already looked into petitioning for a medical redshirt year. He already used one redshirt season after transferring from Colorado.
Forbath, Prince updates
Kicker Kai Forbath (groin injury) warmed up before practice, making five of six kicks from short and medium range. But when practice began, it was punter Jeff Locke who worked with the field-goal unit.
Forbath is expected to go on the trip, but Coach Rick Neuheisel said, "He may just be the emergency guy."
Quarterback Kevin Prince (torn back muscle) looked sharp and on target during practice. Neuheisel has not confirmed whether Prince would start.
Defensive tackle Brandon Willis, a transfer from North Carolina, was at practice Thursday. He will join the team and practice while sitting out as a redshirt. … Receiver Shaquelle Evans, a transfer from Notre Dame, is also expected to join the team once his paperwork is finished, according to a source close to his family who was not authorized to speak publicly.