-- Safety Eric McNeal has a sore shoulder and sat out of practice.
-- Receiver Gavin Ketchum still has a knee contusion and sat out.
-- Defensive tackle Brigham Harwell sat out practice because of illness.
-- Center Robert Chai wore a significantly large brace on his knee.
Head Coach Karl Dorrell comments about McNeal, Ketchum, Harwell, and more on the video interview below.
As most are aware, with the absense of kicker Justin Medlock, the place-kicking duties for the Sun Bowl will fall to one of two freshmen walk-on kickers, Jimmy Rotstein or Brian Malette. Rotstein and Malette were allowed to speak to the media Monday.
Comments from walk-on kicker Jimmy Rotstein:
How do you feel about being able to play in this bowl game?
"It's an opportunity."
Are you prepared? How's the competition?
"We have two very capable kickers and I'm just thankful for the opportunity. You just have to give 100% and just do it."
Have they set a deadline on when they'll name a starter?
"We're taking it day by day."
Comments from walk-on kicker Brian Malette:
Have they told you who's going to start?
"No, not yet. Still competing. Still battling."
How has it been, competing to start in the bowl game?
"I'm just going to do my best. I'm just here to compete. Jimmy and I are good friends, but I really want to play. So we're battling it out and we'll see how it goes."
Has it been hard, at this time of the season, competing to start?
"It's kind of hard to jump right into things, because we haven't really worked with snaps and holds kind of thing. It's new and we have to get used to it sometime."
The holder, Brian Callahan, has had to switch sides, since both you and Rotstein are right-footed kickers, compared to Medlock, who is left footed. Has that been difficult for him?
"He's doing very well. I was kind of surprised. He's actually doing really, really well."
With starting center Mike McCloskey out for the bowl game, and second-string Robert Chai in doubt with a knee injury, redshirt freshman defensive tackle Nathaniel Skaggs has been getting reps with the offense as a center along with Aaron Meyer. Monday Skaggs saw a good deal of time with the first string.
Comments from Skaggs:
Have you been told if you are going to start at center?
"No, I don't know yet what's going to happen."
How comfortable are you at center?
I'm really loving it. I'm having a good time. They're taking good care of me - Shannon (Tevaga) and (Robert) Cleary. They're helping me along and it's made it a lot easier."
You got a good number of first-team reps today. Being thrown in like that, are you still having to think about what you have to do?
"I definitely have to think about it right now. It's only my second day. Putting it all together, snapping and movement. Who you have after motions. It's coming together, but it's not too bad."
Have they told you when they'll decide who will start?
"I don't know that. That's completely up to coach (Tom) Cable and coach (Karl) Dorrell."
This isn't completely foreign to you. You came to UCLA as a center...
"I was recruited here as a center. I was a guard in high school. But then because of injuries last year to the d-line and my speed they moved me over to d-line to make up for that."
Do you think it could be permanent?
"They haven't told me. I like where I'm at. It's a fun position to play. I like it, but I don't know if I'm a center."
Karl Dorrell after Monday's Practice -- Watch Video