UCLA’s Reggie Carter won’t brace himself
UCLA linebacker Reggie Carter is experiencing freedom on the football field for the first time in two weeks.
Carter will play without a brace on his left knee against Temple in the EagleBank Bowl on Tuesday. He sprained a ligament against Oregon on Oct. 10 and, although he did not sit out a game, the injury slowed him considerably, especially with the bulky brace.
“I feel healthy for the first time in a while,” said Carter, who will play his final game for UCLA. “I’ve had that brace for seven or eight weeks. Temple likes to run the ball. It’s my last chance to take advantage of it, and I’m going to make the most of it.”
Carter leads the team with 72 tackles but felt limited on the field because of the brace. He led the Bruins with 83 tackles in 2008 but was considerably more effective in pursuing ballcarriers.
He had 5 1/2 tackles for a loss through the first five games this season, but only 2 1/2 in the seven games since the injury.
“It was hard for me with that brace,” Carter said. “My lateral movement wasn’t as good and I couldn’t run at full speed. I’m definitely looking forward to flying around and making a lot of plays.”
Hey, cheer up
UCLA got a look at Temple’s team during a luncheon Sunday.
“It was good to meet the opponent face to face and realize how proud they are of their accomplishments,” UCLA Coach Rick Neuheisel said.
Carter agreed, though he did seem amused by the chant the Owls did before the lunch.
“I guess you can appreciate it,” Carter said. “They did a pretty good job. I have never seen a football team cheer at one time like that. . . . If they had the pompoms, they would have looked better than their cheerleaders too.”
There remains a slim chance that UCLA freshman offensive lineman Stanley Hasiak, who was sent home last week, could return to the team, according to a source in the program who was not authorized to speak about the situation.
Hasiak, one the Bruins’ top 2009 recruits, had a number of confrontations with teammates during practices. He returned to Hawaii last week but could be back with the Bruins if certain conditions are met, the source said.
A decision is expected in January.
Offensive lineman Ryan Taylor, out since the middle of November because of a foot injury, has increased his workload in the last week and is available for the bowl game.
Taylor, who started two games after right guard Eddie Williams was injured, can play guard and center.
Nick Ekbatani is still expected to start at right guard, but Neuheisel said, “I think Ryan can get some time spelling Nick. That’s a huge boost for us.”