UCLA was without its starting quarterback again Wednesday, though Kevin Prince said, "I expect to play" Saturday against Washington State. But, he added, "You always expect to play."
Whether he can remains uncertain because of an injured right knee.
That has thrust backup Richard Brehaut into a familiar waiting game. He has been on the cusp of making his first college start on a handful of occasions when Prince has been injured.
A year ago, after Prince suffered a broken jaw, Brehaut seemed on track to start, but coaches went with Kevin Craft instead. This season he was getting ready to play against Kansas State in the opener, but Prince overcame a torn muscle in his back.
"Last year, I got all excited before the Kansas State game and had a letdown when I didn't get the start," said Brehaut, a sophomore. "I learned you can't do that. You have to stay level and be ready if you're called."
Brehaut labored through practice Wednesday, with a few passes being intercepted. Coach Rick Neuheisel said the offense was "a little sluggish, but we can fix that."
Brehaut has appeared in one game off the bench this season, completing five of nine passes for 42 yards against Stanford.
Even if Brehaut starts against Washington State, the Bruins may give some time to Darius Bell. The game play could also be altered, with the Bruins relying on the run more. UCLA averages 219 yards per game rushing.
Prince, who injured his right knee against Texas on Saturday, said there was less swelling and his leg felt better.
He had an MRI exam that revealed no structural damage, Neuheisel said, but the swelling required the knee to be drained Sunday night.
"I'm able to extend my leg more and the full range of motion is better," Prince said.
Prince was unsure whether he could practice Thursday, but Neuheisel said, "He has enough experience to handle the chores on Saturday" even if he doesn't practice.
Center Kai Maiava, out with a fractured left ankle, said he is unlikely to return this season.
Maiava, a junior, was injured during training camp and had surgery last month. He will get out of the cast next week but said, "I have to wear a boot for six weeks. I don't think I'll be back."
Maiava will have one year of eligibility remaining.
Defensive end Datone Jones, who suffered a broken bone in his right foot during training camp, will have an MRI exam on Tuesday. If it is negative, he could return to practice in two weeks.… F-back Christian Ramirez was given leave from the team for personal reasons, Neuheisel said.… How bad is 1-3 Washington State? The Bruins were 27-point favorites Tuesday and they remained 27-point favorites even after Prince's injury was made known.