left guard Najee Toran and defensive back Will Lockett, both natives of Houston, reported that their families were safe amid the historic devastation caused by , Bruins coach Jim Mora said Tuesday.
But one of the players UCLA is expected to face in its season opener Sunday in the told the Houston Chronicle that his family required a Coast Guard helicopter to rescue it from the rising floodwaters.
Texas A&M sophomore tailback Trayveon Williams told the Chronicle that his family was lifted to safety in a retractable basket in east Houston and had been transported to a shelter.
“The house isn’t in the best shape right now; the first floor is water damaged,” Williams told the newspaper. “But as long as they’re safe, that’s all that matters.”
Williams rushed for 94 yards against UCLA last season during the Aggies’ 31-24 overtime victory, on the way to 1,057 for the year in which he became the first true freshman in Texas A&M history to rush for more than 1,000 yards.
Mora, speaking generally about the challenges facing the Aggies amid the storm, said he hoped for a speedy return to normalcy for those affected.
“By the time they get out here on Sunday to play,” Mora said, “hopefully things are a little bit back in order there, that there’s a plan, people are more comfortable and safe and secure and their players can really play their best and play uninhibited. They deserve that after all the work that they’ve done, just like our guys do.”
And the winner is …
Mora said Stefan Flintoft, a redshirt junior walk-on, won the job as starting punter over sophomore Austin Kent after having “proven himself to be very consistent” through spring practice and training camp.
Flintoft displaced Kent as the primary punter midway through last season and averaged 40.3 yards a punt, placing eight punts inside the 20-yard line over the final five games.
Kent averaged 38.3 yards last season, tied for second worst among Pac-12 Conference players who averaged at least 2 1/2 punts a game.
Flintoft is among a handful of players vying to win the team’s final scholarship, but Mora said no decision had to be made before school started next month.
“I would like to be able to reward any of them that I think deserve it,” said Mora, himself a former walk-on who was awarded a scholarship at . “It meant a lot to me when I was rewarded with a scholarship. I know what it feels like, I know what it means, and there’s always guys that come out of the woodwork, you always wish you can reward them. Usually we can, but this might be a tough year.”
Mock it up
The Bruins broke in a new side of the field as well as their new game uniforms and new locker room Sunday during a mock game at the Rose Bowl. The only snag might have been feeling a bit disoriented.
“I know for me, I was turning left when I was supposed to be turning right in the locker room,” Mora said, alluding to the fact that the locker room is on a different side of the stadium. “You know, everything’s just kind of reversed — it’s the same locker room, just set up differently — so I think everyone will be very comfortable on [Sunday]. It should be a great environment.”
Mora said his team started its preparations for Texas A&M in earnest Tuesday, calling it “a little bit of a bonus day” because the game will be Sunday instead of Saturday.
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