UCLA safety Tony Dye, left, tackles Houston quarterback Case Keenum in… (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles…)
A little more frustration was added to safety Tony Dye's season Wednesday: a neck roll for his shoulder pads.
Dye, a senior, sat out the last two games because of neck pain caused by a nerve problem, something that has bothered him since training camp. It has robbed the Bruins of their leading tackler from a year ago.
The neck roll was designed to protect the area. And …
"I found out today it does not help," Dye said. "It was irritating. I couldn't turn my head left or right. When I got in my stance, I was looking straight at the ground. I had to get in a linebacker stance and then I couldn't backpedal."
So the neck roll is out.
Dye, who is listed as "probable" for the Washington State game Saturday, has labored through a season unlike any other. He played with a broken wrist as a freshman. He played on a broken foot as a sophomore. But the neck issue has been different.
"This one involves a lot of different things that I can't talk about because of our new injury policy," Dye said. "I don't know if I can say and I don't want to lie."
But he said, "If it was up to me, I would be on the field. I play through injuries. They won't let me."
Dye feels more urgency this week with the Bruins playing the Cougars, who run a spread offense and rank fourth nationally in passing. "We're going to need every defensive back," Dye said.
Whether Dye will be ready remains to be seen. He was cleared to practice this week and did regular work on Tuesday. On Wednesday, he was wearing the no-contact red jersey again.
"I open my [locker] each day and see a different color [jersey]; it messes with your head a little," Dye said. "There's nothing I can do about it but keep getting treatment."
Tyler Gonzalez, the former soccer team manager, is expected to handle extra points and at least some field-goal attempts against Washington State.
With kickers Kip Smith and Joe Roberts sidelined because of leg injuries, punter Jeff Locke was pressed into service as the placekicker. He made field goals of 51 and 49 yards against Texas but missed three extra-point tries in the last two games.
"You can't have that on the college level," Locke said. "I have had the same misses in practice sometimes. I'm essentially looking up too soon, so my body is turning out of the kick and the ball goes with me."
Gonzalez was recruited by a football staff member and has been working out with the team the last four weeks. He made three of five field-goal attempts in practice, with one miss hitting the right upright on a goal post that was listing considerably to the left.
"Everyone knows Tyler doesn't have the strongest leg, he's not the biggest guy, but he is accurate," Locke said. "I'm really excited for him. He has been working hard since the first day he came out here."