Let's start our Tuesday roundup with obligatory update on Kevin Prince. As mentioned yesterday evening the news was positive as Kevin Prince seemed to be heading towards right direction after taking three days off from his attempted comeback from a strained oblique muscle in his back. According to Jon Gold, Prince saw his "most extensive action since the second day of the training camp" yesterday without feeling any pain in his back (although he did feel a little tight).
ESPNLA put together a roundup video with comments from Coach Rick Neuheisel, Norm Chow and Prince himself on Kevin "making progress":
Apparently Prince could have thrown more but Chow held him back so that he didn't aggravate anything in his attempted comeback. The LA Times gave a little detail about the kind of treatment Prince received last week:
Prince, who learned of the tear last week, received platelet-rich plasma injections Thursday to help with the healing process.
"Essentially, they take your blood, spin it, literally spin it, and remove the platelets from blood to help the healing," Prince said. "They then inject them right into the [injured] area."
Guess we are going to find out today how Prince's recovery is going and whether there has been any kind of "lingering effects." I am guessing Neuheisel and Chow will wait at least till Wednesday to name their starter for Saturday game. Given Richard Brehaut's progression, they have the luxury to wait and keep the Wildcats guessing a bit.
We officially opened our gameweek notebook on the Wildcats yesterday (which was linked up by our friends at Bring On The Cats). As Sean T and others at BOTC noted, our initial review didn't include any assessments on how the special teams stack up. It's a great point. So let's talk about it right now.
On our side Kai Forbath, the Lou Groza winner All American kicker, hasn't practiced in a while with a groin injury. As CRN noted above he expects Kai to get back in by Wednesday. Gold himself caught up with Kai for the following interview:
Hopefully Kai will be ready to go. As for rest of our special teams our kicking game should be in good hands with Jeff Locke. The question will be though how our coverage and return team is going to handle a Bill Snyder coached special teams.
Bill Snyder has always had put a premium on special teams with good kicking game, solid coverage and explosive return game. The Wildcats will have an experienced kicker in Senior Josh Cherry. Cherry got off to a bad start last year with some bad misses early in the season but he finished the year strong connecting on 11 of his last 15 shots (he went 12 for 20 during the season). They also have a solid punter in sophomore Ryan Doerr, who per CFN.com "averaged 41.9 yards per kick putting 13 inside the 20 and forcing nine fair catches."
Last year it was Brandon Banks (who has been off to an explosive start with the Washington Redskins in the NFL) who sparked the Wildcats with huge return game. This year per CFN.com the Wildcats are going to be looking at two key guys for their return game:
Good luck replacing Brandon Banks as a kick and punt returner, but the diminutive Adam Repass-Orduna looks the part. Only 5-4 and 161 pounds, he's tiny, but he's lightning quick and he could become a playmaker for the kick return game.
Star safety Tysyn Hartman was actually better than Banks on punt returns averaging 13.1 yards per try, and now he'll get the full-time job where he should be a dangerous weapon who'll keep the overall average above ten yards per crack.
As CRN mentioned during the beginning of the season we cannot afford to make mistakes like we did against Oregon at the Rose Bowl. Hopefully our Coach Gansz will have his guys ready on the road because in a closely contested team mistakes by special teams can be deadly while conversely huge plays and consistent kicking will really help our chances.
Speaking of our special teams, Taylor Embree is going to be one of our two return guys along with Josh Smith. Embree of course has been writing up his football season experiences on our official site this year in a series entitled "82 Review." He just penned his review of our preseason camp, which includes the following note on how the team dealt with injuries:
While some of the young guys have done a great job of making early impacts, we have also had a few of the older guys step up and make plays. The injury bug hit us during fall camp, causing a couple of great starters to go down. On defense, with the loss of Datone Jones, Nate Chandler moved to defensive end. Nate had a great camp and is looking to make big plays on Saturdays for us.
Offensively we lost center Kai Maiava but senior Darius Savage has stepped up and done a great job for us at guard with Ryan Taylor shifting to center. Both Richard Brehaut and incoming JC transfer Darius Bell have made some big plays at quarterback. Darius showed his ability to make plays with his feet and his arm. Brehaut made tremendous progress this camp, maturing a lot in the mental aspect of the game and displayed the confidence it takes to lead the offense as a quaterback.
Going to Kansas State is going to be a "mini homecoming" for Taylor as he lived in Kansas for a year:
Having grown up surrounded by Big 12 football, I understand the importance football holds to Kansas State fans. Coach Snyder will have the team well coached and prepared for the game. After last season's defeat, we know the Wildcats will be excited for another opportunity to play us. You can't beat a game on ABC and I am excited to hear all the Bruin faithful cheer for us in Manhattan.
We can't wait either.
Lastly, speaking of anticipation tomorrow evening at 6 pm PST Rye and 03rdn9 will fire off their BN podcasts for this game week going over the matchup against Kansas State and other UCLA football related notes. I believe TB from Bring On The Cats will be joining the show to give the Wildcats perspective on this game. If you are a college football junkie who loves getting every bit of details going over our game, you should tune in.