Wayne Cook did his Milli Vanilli imitation again Thursday while Homer Smith, UCLA’s offensive coordinator, acted as a ventriloquist.
As Smith called plays and signals, Cook, the Bruin quarterback, lip-synched, saving his sore throat to compete with 100,000 spectators in Saturday’s Rose Bowl game against Wisconsin.
It was the second day back at practice for Cook, who is recovering from flu that he has had since Christmas. “He looked better today,” Coach Terry Donahue said. “He looked stronger and clearly wasn’t as haggard. He’s not going to go into the game feeling great. He’s not going to go into the game at full strength. But I think he’s capable, based on what I saw today, of playing well.”
The Bruins have done little to prepare for a bout of laryngitis, should that befall Cook. “I’m sure he will have a voice,” Donahue said. “If he doesn’t, we’ll do something else, but we haven’t really discussed that. What the obvious solution would be is to play a two-minute offense, where there’s not a lot of verbal communication.
“We could do that. It would be rough, for any team. But we could do it.”
There is a precedent for a strong Rose Bowl performance by an ill UCLA quarterback. Rick Neuheisel, now the Bruin receivers coach, spent New Year’s Eve in 1983 fighting flu, then passed for 298 yards and four touchdowns in a 45-9 victory over Illinois in the ’84 Rose Bowl.
“I’ve got to tell Cook that story,” Neuheisel said.
Paul Guidry, who suffered a severe ankle sprain in UCLA’s loss to Arizona State, is expected to be ready to return punts Saturday. Guidry averaged 10.4 yards per return. Should he falter, Bryan Adams is ready. Adams returned five punts against USC for an average of 9.4 yards, but muffed one on the UCLA 10, leading to the Trojans’ second touchdown.
Linebacker Jamir Miller, who has been dealing with a groin pull and flu all week, is also expected to play.
Cornerback Carl Greenwood, who suffered an ankle sprain in a practice before Christmas, is expected to start, but there is concern about how long he will be able to play.