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HICKS UNFAZED BY SETBACKS.

Byline: Jon Wilner Daily News Staff Writer

Perhaps it is the wasted seasons. Maybe it's the three knee surgeries. Or it could be his natural demeanor.

Whatever the reason, UCLA tailback Skip Hicks was remarkably calm in the Bruins locker room following a 41-21 loss to Washington - a loss in which he was a significant contributor.

Chief among his troubles was a second-quarter fumble, his fourth of the season. It was returned 32 yards, to the UCLA 11, and the Huskies took a 21-0 lead on the next play. Hicks was benched for the remainder of the first half.

``Coach (Bob) Toledo took me out and just told me I couldn't fumble,'' Hicks said. ``It took me a couple minutes to get over it. I told myself there was nothing I could do about it, stay ready, and when I got back in I wouldn't fumble.''

Hicks, a junior, seems surprisingly unfazed by his growing reputation as a fumbler, or as a back who does not run hard. Perhaps he has experienced so much disappointment since the first of three knee injuries (in 1994) that he does not feel the criticism.

``I try not to pay any attention to what people say,'' he said. ``If they say I fumble a lot, or that I'm not as tough as I used to be, or I don't run as hard. I can't do anything about it. I know what I can do.''

His primary problem is the fumbling. The coaches talk about it, the media asks him about it - he can't escape it. And when a runner starts thinking about not fumbling, that's usually the first step toward fumbling.

``I think about it before the games, but once I'm on the field it's like clockwork,'' he said. ``I don't think about it at all. I don't let too many things get to me.

``Fumbling is going to happen. I've been here four or five years, and I'm going to fumble a few times. Everybody makes mistakes. We had a lot of mistakes out there today. I made one of them. A big one.''

His fumbles have overshadowed what has been a solid season after missing most of the past two years. A concussion limited his action against Tennessee, but he gained 175 yards against Oregon and 114 last week against Arizona State.
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Copyright 1996, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

 
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Oct 20, 1996
Words:390
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