UCLA kicker Ka’imi Fairbairn spent nearly an hour after practice getting tips from a pretty good tutor Monday.
Former Bruins kicker Kai Forbath, the Lou Groza Award winner in 2009, was schooling Fairbairn, who had three extra-point attempts blocked in the Bruins’ 49-24 victory over Rice on Thursday.
“I was watching his technique,” Fairbairn said. “His eyes and follow-through are great. When he makes contact, you hear it. It sounds like a top-line kicker.”
It was certainly better than the disheartening “thuds” Fairbairn heard on three of his extra-point attempts. Fairbairn accepted blame for the problems, saying, “I could have gotten the ball up higher.”
But Coach Jim Mora seemed more focused on the line.
The Bruins spent about 20 minutes tinkering with the field-goal unit Monday. That included adding defensive end Datone Jones, among others, to the front.
“We added a little more experience, guys who have done it before,” Mora said. “Sometimes you try guys in there who you think are going to be good at something. Bad things can happen. Lesson learned.”
Mora said, “We have to shore it up because when that fire gets out of control, it’s hard to stop.”
Setting the Barr
Anthony Barr had six solo tackles and one sack in his first game at linebacker. He was UCLA’s best defensive player against Rice, despite playing with a left hand that is heavily wrapped to protect a broken bone.
“I didn’t start as fast as I hoped,” Barr said. “It was a different environment, different feel. Midway through the first quarter, I got my feet under me a little bit.”
Barr said the protective wrap could be removed this week.
“Once he gets that club off, he’s going to be dynamite,” Mora said. “His football instincts take over when he’s moving forward. Things like taking on blockers are natural to him. Backing away into pass coverage is something he has to work on.”
The 6-foot-4, 235-pound Barr said he “wasn’t happy with the way my first two seasons went, but it was a good experience.” He had 12 receptions for 82 yards and gained 54 yards rushing in the two seasons.
“It helps me on defense to some extent,” Barr said. “I have ideas about what they are going to try to do. I can read linemen, see how they are going to block.”
Nebraska running back Rex Burkhead is questionable for Saturday’s game against UCLA. Burkhead suffered what is being called a sprained ligament in his left knee against Southern Mississippi on Saturday. He had an MRI exam Sunday.
“There is no change,” Nebraska Coach Bo Pelini said Monday. “He’s questionable, day to day.”
Pelini said that “if surgery was required, we would have it done right now.”
Burkhead had 1,357 yards rushing in 2011. He had 68 yards in three carries, including a 57-yard touchdown run, against Southern Mississippi.
“We have a lot of confidence in our other running backs,” Pelini said.
Ameer Abdullah did the bulk of the work Saturday. He had 81 yards rushing and caught an 11-yard touchdown pass.