Practice Report: The Quarterback Situation

With spring practice coming to a close by the end of the week, here's semi-assessment of how they three young quarterbacks are doing; a player makes a position switch, and a ex-Bruin great returns to practice for the first time in 25 years...

It's more than three weeks into spring practice and the most critical aspect of the team – the quarterback position – is still the biggest question.  After 13 of 16 spring practices, not one of the three sophomore quarterbacks – Drew Olson, Matt Moore or John Sciarra – has stepped up to own the position.  Olson still appears to be slightly ahead in his execution of the position.  He has a higher percentage of completion in the drills and scrimmages, throws the consistently best ball and makes less mistakes.  Moore has been more inconsistent; he'll go on streaks where he's throwing the ball well, and his arm strength makes him stand out from the three, but he'll then also go on streaks where he throws some weak passes.  During these down streaks, the ball doesn't seem to come out of Moore's hand with the same zip. Sciarra has possibly been the most consistent in executing the shorter throws. He has a short throwing motion that lends itself better to completing the short pass more accurately, but he struggles throwing the ball down the field.  If it's a post pattern down the sideline, it appears that Sciarra tends to throw the ball up for grabs quite often.  But he is improving in throwing longer passes.  The question with Sciarra is his size and command of the position.


When asked about the development of his young quarterbacks, Head Coach Karl Dorrell provided some straight answers. He said, that their general performance this spring has been "off and on," and that he realizes that they're three players that are not only young and inexperienced but still trying to pick up a new system.  Dorrell said, "All of them have showed good signs where they picked up and understood some of the passing game philosophy we're trying to instill. Then all of them make bonehead mistakes, too, where they shouldn't throw a particular ball into a particular coverage. That's part of the process at that position. I think overall all three have done a nice job in picking up the general system."


With a defense that returns a great deal of its starters, and has veteran depth, and the rest of the offense that also returns talent and depth, the success of next year's team could very well ride on the performance from these young quarterbacks.  When asked if he was a little worried about whether he'd get the performance out of the position that he wants next fall, Dorrell said: "I think a lot of that we'll have to do with how they work as a team in the off-season, summer program. Obviously the coaches can't be involved. The time that they put into football in their summer workouts will either enhance us or slow us down. I think with our attitude on the team, they plan on being here this summer and doing the things they have to do to improve themselves. We ought to be in at least as good as shape as how we left spring and hopefully a little better.  But right now, in spring, we're just putting in our foundations for now and then we'll extend the competition in the fall and see who emerges from there."


A New Drill: In practice Monday, there was a new drills where the wide receivers went head-to-head against the defensive backs.  The wide receiver catches a short pass and then goes one on one with the DB, within a skinny, coned-off area, and has to see if he can, with his improvised moves, get past the defensive back.  Of course, Craig Bragg was the most elusive wide receiver, consistently juking the DB who matched up with him.  Tab Perry showed some shake and did well in the drills.  He's still a big receiver, but showing more quickness this spring.  On the defensive back side, Matt Ware looked good, showing good quickness and the strength to control the receiver, until he went up against Bragg and found himself taking a swipe at air.


Raymo Makes a Move: There were two number 23s catching passes Monday.  In addition to freshman Antwuan Smith, there was the other #23, junior safety Jibril Raymo. It was rumored in the off-season that Raymo would switch to receiver and Monday Raymo made the move. Dorrell said, "He wanted to try receiver. It's something he talked about during the off-season in winter conditioning. He played both positions in high school, and I said, ‘Why not? We'll give you an opportunity.' He actually did some good things out there today. So we'll want to see how that works out, with depth chart and all of those issues, but he did seem like he knew a little bit about playing that position and I was encouraged by that."


Raymo said, "It was something I had been thinking about for a long time. Then I really thought about it in the off-season. I then called Coach Dorrell and told him I wanted to try it.  I had talked to him earlier about it, and told him I really wanted to be on the offensive side.  It's something I always wanted to do. I went both ways in high school. It's not that I don't want to play defense. I just have it down after two years. But now I think I want to be on the offensive side."


Raymo said he felt pretty comfortable on his first day at wide receiver. "I had a lot of fun with it today, running routes, getting my hands, getting back in the groove of things. I'm just trying to focus on all the aspects of it. It was coming back. The main thing I was thinking about was my hands. The name of the game is catching the ball at receiver.  So all my routes will come with time, but right now I'm focusing on looking everything in and catching everything, and everything else will com

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