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UCLA FOOTBALL

Kicker Ka'imi Fairbairn has distanced himself from key miss

Since missing 52-yard attempt in Pac-12 title-game loss, Fairbairn has ended practice with a similar try, helping abate disappointment.

October 15, 2013|By Chris Foster

Ka'imi Fairbairn's 52-yard field-goal attempt from the left hash in the rain fell short and wide, leaving Stanford with a 27-24 victory in the Pac-12 Conference championship game last November.

Instead of allowing Fairbairn to wallow in that moment, Coach Jim Mora has made him do it again ... and again ... and again. The Bruins ended almost every practice with that kick during spring practice, fall training camp and the early part of the season.

That's changed with the Bruins preparing to return to Stanford Stadium to play the Cardinal on Saturday. Fairbairn no longer ends practice from 52 yards out.

"What I started doing about two weeks ago was adding a 55-yarder down the middle," Mora said. "Sometimes he makes it, sometimes he doesn't. It is a way to move past that kick and on to the next one. It's my way of telling him, 'You got it.'"

It seems to have worked.

"Every kick is the same kick, whether it's a 50-yarder or" a point after touchdown, Fairbairn said.

Fairbairn said the 52-yard ritual became "my favorite spot. It's kind of funny." It has taken away some of the magnitude of the miss, though it was hard to tell how much Fairbairn was affected, given his stoic expressions.

But he does smile when talking about his day-in, day-out do-overs.

"Coach has put me in a number of different spots, but we always end up there," Fairbairn said. "I've done it so many times, I don't even think about it anymore."

Which was the plan all along.

"What I wanted it to become, honestly, is not to be a defining kick," Mora said. "I wanted it, in his mind, to be another kick. I think we have done it. I thought during the off-season, 'How can we help this kid?' Well, let's make him make that kick every day. Now I give him a longer kick."

Practicing the longer kicks is a good idea.

Fairbairn has made 16 consecutive kicks from 35 yards or closer. He is five for 12 from 40 or more in his career. His longest is 48 yards.

Marsh OK

Defensive end Cassius Marsh will not have to serve any extra time.

Marsh was ejected in the first half against California on Saturday after taking a swing at a Bears player, who had swung first. He will not receive any extra disciplinary punishment by the Pac-12.

"The rule, as I understand them, is if you're ejected in the first half and sit the second, you're OK for the next game," Mora said. "If you are ejected in the second half, you have to sit the rest of that half and the start of the next game."

Injury report

Mora said he is "99% certain" that defensive end Ellis McCarthy, who missed the Cal game because of a head injury, will play.

Others who are hurt are receiver Darius Bell (ankle), running back Jordon James (ankle) and receiver Darren Andrews (shoulder). Mora expects Bell and Andrews to be available this week, but James, the Bruins' leading rusher, is doubtful.

chris.foster@latimes.com

Twitter: @cfosterlatimes

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