UCLA's Kevin Prince back to full speed
UCLA quarterback Kevin Prince threw full-speed passes during team drills at Practice Tuesday and afterward said the pain in his strained oblique had subsided enough that he could play through the injury if the season were to start today.
"With it like this, I feel like [I] could fight through it," he said. "Obviously that's not what the coaches want me to do. It's not what the trainers want me to do. But, I was able to fight through some stuff today and hopefully it continues to improve so I don't have to fight through it."
Prince, the returning starter who led the Bruins to a victory over Temple in the Eagle Bank Bowl, has been limited to practicing running plays and throwing lightly on the side since Aug. 10. He completed six of his eight attempts during the drills, the first time he has thrown more than one pass during a live session since the injury. The passes were all in the 10- to 20-yard range.
"It felt pretty good," he said. "I still have some pain throwing it, but I was overall pleased with the way the ball was coming out of my hand. I was throwing it accurately. Not as much zip as I want to put on it, but it's a step forward in the right direction."
Prince said he's comfortable throwing the short passes, but is still not to the point that he's willing to try longer, post-type routes, streaks and deep comebacks.
"Those are the ones I'm still struggling with a little bit in terms of the pain level," he said.
Prince worked with the first team during 11-on-11 drills, but most of his plays were running plays. He threw a screen pass on one play and a quick slant on another, but Coach Rick Neuheisel said the plan was to limit Prince's throws after the one-on-one drills.
"He was on a pitch count," Neuheisel said. "Just wanted to see him cut a few loose and he said it didn't get worse, so that was good news."
The best news, Prince said, was that the pain no longer lingers and therefore it doesn't affect the rest of his game.
"Before, the pain would be there and kind of stay around and affect my running," he said. "[Today] there would be sharp pains when I'd throw, but it wouldn't stay around and I could still go run around without any pain. I saw that as a plus."
Offensive coordinator Norm Chow said Prince looked pretty close to full speed.
"He looked like he could have played today," Chow said.
Peter Yoon covers UCLA for ESPNLosAngeles.com