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UCLA FOOTBALL

UCLA's Josh Smith, Kai Maiava look forward to seeing old friends

Smith, a receiver, and Maiava, a center, started their careers at Colorado before transferring to Westwood. They both want a victory Saturday over the Buffaloes.

November 17, 2011|By Chris Foster
  • UCLA wide receiver Josh Smith is looking forward to playing Colorado, where he played as a freshman in 2009.
UCLA wide receiver Josh Smith is looking forward to playing Colorado, where… (Bret Hartman / Associated…)

UCLA wide receiver Josh Smith will look at the Colorado players on the other sideline Saturday at the Rose Bowl and see his past.

"I used to wear that uniform; now I wear this one," Smith said.

Center Kai Maiava is "excited" about running into — and over — old friends on the field.

"I still keep in contact with those guys," Maiava said. "That's why I want the 'W.' It will be bragging rights."

Smith and Maiava began their college careers at Colorado before transferring to UCLA — Smith in 2009 and Maiava in 2008.

"There are going to be a lot of emotions," Smith said. "It's senior day and my family will be there. They never got to see me play at Colorado and rarely have seen me play at UCLA. Now they get to see both uniforms."

Smith still has close ties to players in the Colorado program. He helped recruit some of the wide receivers, including Toney Clemons, who is tied for the team lead with 36 receptions.

And Smith will certainly cross paths with linebacker Josh Hartigan, his dorm roommate as a freshman, and defensive back Travis Sandersfeld, another friend, on the field.

Smith's plan is to tag-team the Buffaloes with fellow wide receiver Taylor Embree, whose father is Colorado Coach Jon Embree.

"Taylor and I are going to have each other's back and keep the Buffaloes' [offense] off the field," Smith said.

Maiava was a starting guard at Colorado as a freshman in 2007, playing well enough to be named to a handful of all-freshman teams. He is eager to get re-acquainted with some chums.

"Yeah, I'm friends with a couple guys on defense," Maiava said, adding, "I'm coming for you, David Goldberg."

Goldberg is a Colorado linebacker.

"We're friends off the field; on it we're not," Maiava said.

Road Bowl game

The Buffaloes have not won a game outside Colorado since 2007, a 23-game streak that includes a neutral-field loss to Alabama in the 2007 Independence Bowl.

"Ending that road losing streak is real important to us, as important as winning on senior day was," Colorado quarterback Tyler Hansen told the Denver Post. "We're going to go to the Rose Bowl and get it done."

Jon Embree did damage control during his news conference, saying, "I don't get caught up in that. … We think we are going to win this week, we thought we were going to win last week and think we are going to win in the future."

As to whether sharing such feelings publicly is wise, Embree said, "Whether it is said in the locker room, whether it is said publicly, to me it doesn't change."

Kicker is off

Kicker Tyler Gonzalez struggled Wednesday, missing five consecutive 47-yard field-goal attempts at the end of the two-minute drill.

Gonzalez was one for three from the same distance at the end of practice Tuesday.

"Tyler has been money for us," Coach Rick Neuheisel said. "It wasn't a great day for him today. He'll be back tomorrow."

Gonzalez has made five of seven field-goal attempts in games since being plucked away from the men's soccer team, where he was the team manager.

chris.foster@latimes.com

twitter.com/cfosterlatimes

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