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Tuesday, March 9, 2021

Football

Football team set for visit to California


Even though UCLA has looked sluggish through two games, the Cougars are expecting an aggressive effort. | Courtesy of UH Athletics

After defeating conference foe UTEP 54-24, the No. 23 Cougars will travel to Pasadena, Calif. for Saturday’s matchup against UCLA at the Rose Bowl.  For many of the players, it will be their first time venturing to the west coast. 

“We have never been there,” head coach Kevin Sumlin said.  “Out of the 66 guys that are traveling, probably 60 of them have never seen a mountain in their life. It will be a great opportunity for us, and it is a great venue for those who haven’t been there it’s a great place to play, particularly at the time we play.”

“For our guys it will be something that they will never forget, and even for some of our coaches who have never been there. We are looking forward to it, and it ought to be fun.”

Quarterback Case Keenum’s condition is day-to-day heading into Saturday’s matchup after sustaining an alleged concussion in the third quarter against UTEP. His playing status will likely not be announced until Saturday.  

Backup quarterback Cotton Turner filled in for Keenum versus UTEP, and will start if Keenum doesn’t play.  The Cougars do not plan on changing their game plan if Turner is the signal caller.

“He (Turner) got plenty of reps in the spring. I think everyone can see his improvement from the spring,” Sumlin said. 

“He probably got more reps than Case did, with the number of scrimmages in the spring. You try to prepare the best you can for situations like this. I think the preparation our staff has done with him, his own preparation, being with and behind Case and how he prepares every week has really taught him what to do mentally.”

The last meeting between the two programs was in 1998 that led to a 42-24 UCLA victory.  The Bruins have started 2010 winless, losing to Kansas State in their season opener 22-31, and then being shutout by Stanford, 0-35.  In the 29th year of playing at the Rose Bowl, the Bruins have won the last 23 of 33 games hosted at the stadium.

UCLA is under the command of head coach Rick Neuheisel.  In two seasons, he has compiled an overall record of 11-14.  

This season the Bruins are running the pistol offense. The pistol formation is similar to the shotgun formation, in that the quarterback doesn’t receive the snap at the line of scrimmage.  In the pistol, the quarterback stands three to four yards behind the center; in the shotgun, a quarterback will stand five to seven yards from center.

Starting for the Bruins will be quarterback Kevin Prince. Through two games he’s completed 15 of 38 passes for 159 yards. He’s thrown for three interceptions and one touchdown.

Cornerback Jamal Robinson is excited about playing the first road game of the season. The team has no extracurricular activities planned on their trip; it will be strictly football. 

Robinson said that he is expecting the Bruins to come out thirsty for a win after two disappointing efforts.

“Los Angeles is a nice place, but we’re not there to sightsee — it’s a business trip for us,” Robinson said.

“You don’t want to be 0-2 and then be 0-3, so we’re expecting them to come out and give it their best shot.”  

“They’re a great team. They have big and strong athletes. They look really good, but we’re going to give it our best and go from there.”

Seating over 90,000 students, alumni and fans, the Rose Bowl serves as one of major sports venues in the country.

“There is a lot of history there, and a lot of great players have played there,” Robinson said.  “It will be a great atmosphere for us, and we will go out there and embrace it, but at the same time it is a business trip.”

The hype has offensive right-guard Chris Thompson anticipating Saturday’s affair. 

“It’s a great place to go and play football,” Thompson said. “If you are a football player it’s one of the places you would love to go play in.  It is just another place to go out and show our God-given talents.”

The game will be televised on Fox Sports Network at 9 p.m.


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