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UCLA's Kip Smith has kicker's job, with caveats

While Rick Neuheisel says the coaching staff will continue to work with the struggling Smith, they also 'want him to win the job,' with punter Jeff Locke being a potential challenger.

September 05, 2011|By Chris Foster
  • UCLA kicker Kip Smith looks toward the uprights as he prepares for a field-goal attempt against Houston in the season opener on Saturday.
UCLA kicker Kip Smith looks toward the uprights as he prepares for a field-goal… (Thomas Campbell / US Presswire )

Kip Smith is going to be given every chance to be UCLA's kicker … unless someone else is better.

Coach Rick Neuheisel is adamant that "we've got to keep working with him to get him to trust himself."

Yet how much trust Neuheisel will extend to Smith will depend on whether someone else— perhaps punter Jeff Locke — kicks better this week.

"That will be part of a long conversation with Kip in terms on how we go forward," Neuheisel said. "We want him to win the job."

Whether he can remains to be seen.

Smith missed a 32-yard field-goal attempt, kicking into the wind, in a 38-34 loss to Houston. He also buried an extra-point try into the backside of a Bruins special-teams player.

"You watch Kip in practice and you come away thinking he has a kicker inside him," Neuheisel said.

But Neuheisel acknowledged that "it's my job to put the guy we feel gives us the best chance on the field."

Prince probably back

Neuheisel was confident quarterback Kevin Prince would be ready to play against San Jose State. Prince suffered a minor concussion and sprained right shoulder against Houston.

An MRI exam on Prince's shoulder revealed no damage.

"I'd say it is better than a 50-50 chance he'll play," Neuheisel said. If Prince is able to practice only a little, Neuheisel said Richard Brehaut would start, but "Kevin will play."

Prince gives the Bruins "a little faster quarterback," Neuheisel said.

A year ago, Prince tried to come back quickly from a knee injury suffered in the Texas game. He played two weeks later against California and was lost for the season.

"The knee was obviously more damaged than originally believed," Neuheisel said. "This is a sprain that has no damage from what the MRI showed."

Baca returns

Offensive lineman Jeff Baca will return to practice this week and will play tackle. Sean Sheller is expected to shift to guard. Baca expects to be ready to play Saturday against San Jose State.

"We'll see how much he can do in practice, and how rusty he is," Neuheisel said. "He not only missed spring ball, but all of last year."

Baca was academically ineligible in 2010.

Love better

Neuheisel said that linebacker Glenn Love might be able to play this week after suffering a dislocated shoulder against Houston.

"He's seeing the doctor about wearing a harness," Neuheisel said. "There's a chance he will be available."

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