<
>

Josh Smith bracing for expanded role

Josh Smith will stick close to the oxygen when he is on the sidelines Saturday against California--if he ever makes it to the sidelines, that is.

Smith, a senior wide receiver and kick return specialist, figures to get a lot more action than usual because of suspensions handed down to four of UCLA's wide receivers. Smith and Nelson Rosario are the only two receivers with significant experience who will be eligible to play Saturday so they will be on the field as much as possible. Add in Smith kick return duties and it could be an exhausting game.

"I’m imagining myself out there very tired," Smith said. "Very tired."

Smith said he's preparing for different roles and studying different plays and formations because he will be counted on to help pick up the slack left by the absences of Taylor Embree, Shaquelle Evans, Randall Carroll and Ricky Marvray.

"I’ve got to pick the guys up this weekend," Smith said. "The workload has been taxed on my shoulders this week. Not too many plays off the field and that’s a good thing, but at the same time, you know, the work gets endless."

As with many receivers, Smith is often vocal about wanting to get the ball more. He has six catches for 158 yards this season--his 26.3 yards per catch average leads the team--but could double his receptions total on Saturday.

"I never knew that it could make a 180 spin like that," Smith said. "This is probably one of the biggest opportunities of my lifetime right now and that’s what I’m looking at it as."

Not knowing exactly how it's going to go, however, has him a bit concerned.

"I just have this vision that a kick return just happened, I just got my helmet knocked off, I’ve got to find a way to suck the air in and get back in there for the next play," he said. "And they call and play for me right after the kickoff return, so now I’m all beat up and I’m grabbing the grass out of my face mask and gotta figure out where I’m lining up."