True freshman running back Maurice Drew continues to impress, and get quite a few reps, due to other tailbacks being out. Starting sophomore tailback Tyler Ebell was out for another practice session; Akil Harris went through drills but only in a red, no-hit jersey; and Wendell Mathis was dressed but didn't practice. Given such an opportunity, Drew had another good practice, breaking runs in succession by busting through the line with a nice burst.
Fullback J.D. Groves has been seeing time at tailback, but Dorrell said it was only because of the current injury situation at tailback.
Looking more and more every day like he is fully ready to take over the starting cornerback position vacated by Ricky Manning, Matt Clark continues to have a great camp. Clark had another solid performance this morning, picking off a pair of Drew Olson passes, one in 7-on-7 and the other during 11-on-11 action. The shortest member of the UCLA defense (and the only player under 6-1 on the first-team defense), Clark still plays bigger than his height, twice taking a full-steamed Manuel White head on, and not budging.
"I'll probably not take many guys on that size during the season," said Clark.
Another good performance was turned in by receiver Jacques Lazarus, who had a couple of nice, deep receptions from Drew Olson. Lazarus seems to be a bit more focused than in the early part of camp, and it has shown in his play.
With Mike McCloskey still out with "concussive syndrome," Robert Chai has been playing center with the first team, and walk-on Tyson Clayton is playing center with the second team. Freshman guard P.J. Irvin is working in Clayton's place with the second team at right guard. Shane Lehmann is looking more and more comfortable playing left tackle, after spending the previous four years on the right side, next to Alex Potasi, who is looking better at left guard.
The team tried to simulate a loud stadium environment while kicker Justin Medlock attempted field goals.
In addition to Akil Harris participating in a red, no-hit jersey, so did Ben Emanuel. One notable recruit in attendance was defensive line prospect Alan King (6-3, 240) from Van Nuys (Calif.) Monroe, who made the trek from the Valley to the Orange County.
Charles Thompson, a walk-on transfer from Cal State Northridge, has been cleared to play, and will begin working out with the team beginning on Monday. As of now he has three years to play two but is petitioning the NCAA to get one more year of eligibility re-instated.
Some comments from Karl Dorrell after Friday morning's practice:
On Ebell's status: "He had some tests done again today, some precautionary things. I don't think it's anything major. But we feel we have to do the things are necessary to make sure the kid is okay, with any injury. I felt good about his status yesterday and I feel just as good today."
On the possibility of Maurice Drew getting playing time: "Drew is playing well. He's obviously getting a lot of reps. He's done a great job of picking up our system. He's a tough little back to tackle, has great balance, and did a nice job today. There's no doubt I think he'll be able to help us this year."
On whether the injured players will participate in tomorrow's scrimmage: "There are a number of players that are day-to-day, especially the head injury players. They have to go through a process of going through the physical exertion work without getting contact. If everything goes okay, in red jerseys today, hopefully they'll be cleared to go tomorrow. I know the three freshmen hamstring guys – Chris Horton, Joe Cowan and Alex Ghebreselassie – won't play."
On kicker Justin Medlock: "He's doing okay. He'll get better the more reps he gets in a team setting. Is he ready to go as of today? No. I think he needs some more work. But he'll be there."
On the improved performance of receiver Jacques Lazarus in the last few days: "He's playing well. He's starting to things up a little better and is feeling more comfortable. That's why you can probably notice him a little better."