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UCLA FOOTBALL FYI

UCLA's turnover woes won't cut it in Texas

UCLA has turned the ball over 10 times in three games and Coach Rick Neuheisel knows his team can't afford many mistakes against the No. 7-ranked Longhorns.

September 22, 2010|By Chris Foster

One thing UCLA has been this season is generous.

Only Ohio's 11 turnovers top the Bruins' 10. With five fumbles and five passes intercepted, UCLA is minus-five in turnover ratio.

That is on Coach Rick Neuheisel's mind as the Bruins prepare to play seventh-ranked Texas in Austin.

"We go into this game with the understanding that we can't do anything to beat ourselves," Neuheisel said. "We have not been a good football team in that area the first three weeks."

The Bruins' "pistol" offense can lead to more turnovers, given the quick-read decisions the quarterback has to make on handoffs. But UCLA's turnover woes have not been attributed to the new offense.

"I think it was something we were concerned about," quarterback Kevin Prince said. "We feel like we took care of it. We'd get together for seven-on-seven drills before spring practice and at the end we'd do handoffs with the backs to make sure we got the mesh right."

The Bruins have eight fumbles this season, losing five, but, "It hasn't been part of the pistol's machinery," Neuheisel said. "It's been discipline and fundamentals."

Immovable object

Texas comes into the game ranked No. 1 nationally against the run, allowing 44 yards per game.

"They are the most talented defense I have seen in the five years since I have been back in college football," UCLA line coach Bob Palcic said. " … They have strength and quickness. I don't see a flaw."

Tackle Micah Kia, who missed the Houston game with an ankle injury, saw minimal time in practice Tuesday. Mike Harris worked with the first team. Kia is expected to start if healthy.

The Bruins rank 31st nationally in rushing, averaging 203 yards a game.

Asked who on the offense line has exceeded his expectations, Neuheisel said, "They all are exceeding expectations because I wasn't sure any of them would be where they are now."

Painful play

UCLA coaches were diplomatic talking about Houston's opening kickoff, which resulted in Bruins linebacker Jared Koster being lost for the season with a shoulder injury.

Houston's entire front group charged UCLA players on the kickoff.

"It's legal," Neuheisel said.

Asked whether something being legal made it right, Neuheisel said, "It was clear to me that it was something they were looking forward to because their whole bench was jumping up and down. The whole sideline was looking for it. Chalk one up for them, they got us. It's just too bad Jared Koster got hurt on play."

Quick hits

Wide receiver Taylor Embree was held out of practice because of a hip flexor injury. … Running back Derrick Coleman (concussion) returned to practice wearing a no-contact red jersey and could return to full practice Wednesday. … Defensive end Iuta Tepa, who will have surgery to repair a torn pectoral muscle, is out for the season. … F-back Christian Ramirez sat out practice with a hamstring injury.

chris.foster@latimes.com

twitter.com/cfosterlatimes

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