PULLMAN, Wash. — UCLA played Saturday without running back Damien Thigpen, who was sidelined because of a mild sprain in his left knee. He made the trip but did not suit up against Washington State.
It left the Bruins without their top kickoff returner and one of the offense's big-play threats.
Thigpen averages 26.9 yards on kickoff returns. He is the team's third-leading rusher, with 249 yards, and averages 5.1 yards per carry. He also has 17 receptions for 216 yards.
Thigpen has gained 20 or more yards on 17 plays this season, most among UCLA players. He has scored four touchdowns, three on plays of 20 yards or more.
Jordon James and Steven Manfro were Johnathan Franklin's backups against the Cougars.
Rockin' the block
The Bruins wasted little time scoring, getting a touchdown on the first possession — Washington State's first possession.
Datone Jones blocked a 39-yard field-goal attempt by Washington State's Andrew Furney. Sheldon Price picked up the bouncing ball and ran 68 yards for the touchdown.
Price is the fifth UCLA defensive player to score a touchdown this season, joining Jones, Damien Holmes, Cassius Marsh and Eric Kendricks.
The Bruins also blocked a field-goal attempt on the Cougars' second possession. Marsh deflected Furney's 33-yard try.
The Bruins' Jordan Zumwalt blocked a punt by Michael Bowlin on Washington State's third possession.
The turmoil Washington State has trudged through this season reach another road marker. Marquess Wilson, the Cougars' career receiving leader, announced Saturday he had quit the team.
Wilson had been suspended after walking out of practice last Sunday. In a statement, Wilson blamed the coaching staff for what he said was abuse of players. He sent a text to a reporter at the Seattle Times saying that first-year Coach Mike Leach and his staff "preferred to belittle, intimidate and humiliate us."
Washington State released a statement from Leach saying, "It's unfortunate that Marquess has chosen not to go through the weekend and had the subsequent visit with me as we had discussed last Tuesday." Leach also wished "Marquess well in his future endeavors."
Wilson had 189 career receptions for 3,207 yards and 23 touchdowns. He set the school single-season record with 82 receptions for 1,388 yards in 2011 and was the team's leading receiver this season with 52 catches for 813 yards.
UCLA redshirt freshman quarterback Brett Hundley does not lack sources he can tap for advice — even in his hotel room.
Hundley rooms with backup quarterback Kevin Prince on the road. Prince, a fifth-year senior, has started 26 games for UCLA, and guided the Bruins to two bowl games.
"I think Kevin is a great help to Brett," UCLA Coach Jim Mora said. "It always helps to have someone who has done it around."
The two talk a little football when not trying to pull a prank on their coach at bed check.
"That hasn't happened in a while," Mora said. "I check the rooms at 10:40 p.m. and the last two road trips they've been asleep."
Washington State assistant Jim Mastro, a UCLA assistant in 2011, bemoaned the fact that he couldn't use Hundley last season. Hundley suffered a knee injury in the summer, which slowed him during training camp.
Hundley sat out the season as a redshirt. UCLA finished 6-8. Coach Rick Neuheisel was fired.
"If he could have not torn his MCL in the summertime, he probably would have been our starting quarterback last year, and Rick would probably still be there," Mastro said. "But everything works out for the best."
It still might not have helped. The Bruins ranked 89th nationally defensively and 92nd in points allowed.