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Spaulding Roundup: Kicking Game Taking Shape, Koster Looks Forward

The Bruins are continuing on in their preparations for Saturday's season opener in Houston. With game time getting close, and heading into draining weather, the team engaged in a light practice on Wednesday - Jon Gold thought it "more of a mental practice than a physical one", with the team practicing in shorts and shell pads. With the depth charts and starting QB for the Houston game announced, there was not much in the way of breaking news coming out of Spaulding yesterday.

One exception to the above statement has to do with the kicking game. The depth chart lists either Kip Smith or Jeff Locke as the placekicker, and the local media has been covering that aspect of the training camp battle closely, particularly in the 36 hours since Coach Neuheisel ended the Quarterbacking competition.In the last couple of days, Smith has improved upon his consistency; while Neuheisel is calling the choice between the two placekickers a gametime decisions, it appears that Kip Smith will

"I thought Kip has gotten better and is going to answer the bell and certainly Jeff Locke is proven at the other two spots," Neuheisel said. "We’ll see how it goes pregame and make a decision at that time."

On making that decision, Neu said:

"Those are gut instinct things," he said. "I don’t think you can predetermine those things and then get there and say 'I don’t think I should'. You just make up your mind as it goes along and I’m the only one who has to sleep with that so I can handle that. It’s a decision I’ll make at the time and hopefully I’ll make the right one."

The LA Times has a short piece on Aaron Hester and Sheldon Price, as they prepare for another game against the pass-happy Cougars, while the OC Register brings us the shocking news that the team is fine with and accepting of the Head Coach's decision to have the 2009 and 2010 starting Quarterback start 2011 in the same role. Peter Yoon has a story on Jared Koster, returning to action on Saturday for the first time since a questionable hit during the opening kickoff of last year's Houston game ended his 2010 season, and led him to the operating table. The hit had a significant lasting physical effect on Jared, but he is not letting that get in the way of his play, and not letting any hard feelings seep through

Consider that not only will he have a scarred shoulder that allows him to rotate his arm only 70 percent inward for the rest of his life, but he's covered the shoulder with a tattoo over the shoulder depicting a "Terminator"-like metal inside and a Bruins symbol plastered over it.

... but Koster said the only for of retribution he'll be seeking is by making some plays on special teams and helping UCLA get a victory.

"I just have to have my awareness for this upcoming game," he said. "I’ll be on kickoff and I definitely won’t let it happen again. I’m not worried about payback, I’m just worried about getting a win. That would be the best revenge."

In addition, Jon Gold's UCLA Football preview is in today's Daily News, or available here online. In his normal post-practice article, he talked to Taylor Embree about how the past few weeks have turned out. Taylor was positive - fired up, as Gold put it - on how well practices have gone this summer.

"The level of competition that we've had at this camp is unbelievable," Embree said. "All over the board. We've always had the talent, we've seen flashes of it throughout my career, but it's never been consistent. In practice, even when we have a bad practice, we see a lot of good things. Usually in the past, we have a bad practice on offense, we're not even getting the ball off the ground. Balls fumbled, drops. But now, the foundation we've formed this camp is nothing we've seen before."

The Bruins practice again today before leaving for Texas on Friday.