Scrimmage: Who's the Boss?

The question -- "Who's the Boss?" -- is a pertinent one, and after Saturday's scrimmage that culminated fall camp at Cal State Fullerton, there are quite a few answers to it. Here's also a play-by-play rundown and analysis...

Who's the Boss?

One answer to this question is Karl Dorrell. It's clear after the Bruins wrapped up camp that he has quickly reshaped this team in his image: fastidious about details, fit, hard-charging, hyper-competitive and relentless. The Bruins played today with the calm, cool, collected demeanor of men who realize they can make a big splash on the college scene this year. Shhhhh. Don't tell anybody. But that's the Bruins' footsteps you're hearing…we'll see if they crash and take over the party or just deliver pizza.

Another answer is Ryan Boschetti, known as "The Boss" to his teammates. At times, The Boss was a one-man wrecking crew, and he led the 1st team DL to some very impressive efforts. His return to action was great news for Bruins not named Efseaff, Mociler and McCloskey.

Finally, the last answer is Matt Moore. Matt made some key 3rd down conversions through the air, made almost every throw in the playbook, and scrambled once for a 4 yard gain. He faced adversity and never flustered, pulling the Bruins' bacon out of the fire numerous times. Word is that once ‘lil Neu heard Moore proclaim in the paper, "I've never lost…", he tried to get Matt on the first flight to Vegas, but my guess is that Karl wants him to stick around and blow on the Bruins' dice for the come-out. Just a hunch…

Karl Dorrell ran his Bruins through an hour-and-a-half, 104-play scrimmage at Cal State Fullerton's stadium on a cloudless day where the temperatures were in the high 80s to start, moving into the low 90s as the day progressed. Thankfully, there appeared to be no major injuries.

Many of the players who were dinged up nutted up and suited up for today's scrimmage. It was clear watching Tyler Ebell's body language that he was dying to play today. But the plan was to avoid that at all costs, not that there was any real risk, so Tyler was kept out. Nnamdi Ohaeri's first day in pads will be Sunday. (Oh yeah, the Bruins are practicing, no day off.)

The scrimmage started off with the 1st string O v. the 1st team D on the O's 30 yard line, continuing the Dorrell tradition of pitting his best against his best, something UCLA has done all spring and fall, and something very few other programs do.

Matt Moore led the Bruins out, allegedly without the benefit of a coin flip; Steve Axman and Karl Dorrell apparently decided that Moore had earned the first shot in the scrimmage with his fall camp performance.

Joining Moore were: Ed Blanton RT, Paul Mociler RG, Mike McCloskey C, Eyoseph Efseaff LG, Steve Vieira LT, Marcedes Lewis TE, Blane Kezirian TE, Craig Bragg FL, Junior Taylor FL and Maurice Drew as the ace back. Taylor did not seem limited today by the ankle sprain he suffered the day before. Ryan Smith also mixed in a WR, as did Manuel White at FB/TB and Pat Norton at FB.

The D lined up with: Mat Ball LDE, Rodney Leisle DT, The Boss NG, Dave Ball RDE, Brandon Chillar WSLB, Justin London MLB, Spencer Havner SSLB (trish says ‘hi!'), Matt Clark LCB, Matt Ware RCB, Ben Emanuel FS and Jarrad Page SS.

On 1st and 10, double tight, Moore gave the rock to Maurice Drew who headed for the 4 hole, and MoD squirted, powered and thrust forward for 16 yards behind Blanton and Lewis, bouncing off tacklers before Clark and Emanuel could bring him down. What a combination of speed, power, low pad level, pop and balance.

1st and 10, double tight, and JLo filled hard and stopped MoD up the middle for 1 yard. On 2nd and 9, I left, The Boss completely beat the double-team by Mociler and McCloskey to storm into the backfield and drop Drew for a 3 yd loss.

On 3rd and 12, 3 wide set, Moore dropped back to pass, but Mat Ball completely bull-rushed Ed Blanton and ‘sacked' Moore (the QBs weren't live in the scrimmage). However, Matt Clark was flagged for holding on the play, giving the O a new set of downs. Moore had no chance to escape because Ball was in on him so quickly.

On 1st and 10, 3 wide with Lewis in the slot, The Boss shrugged off Efseaff and McCloskey and the disappointment of the previous play to sack Moore for the second play in a row, this time for a 7 yd loss.

2nd and 17, Moore fired a slant pass to the right to the ever reliable Craig Bragg, who caught the ball with his hands perfectly in stride inside of Clark, and burst up the seam for a 16 yard gain.

This brought on 3rd and 1, which is Manster time. Double tight, wing left, Manster behind Norton, Efseaff pulls, blast left…and the M Train has left the station. A broken tackle, a bounce to the outside, a virtual piggyback ride for BE2 and 29 yards later, first down UCLA on the 3 yard line.

Double tight wing, MoD up the middle, but he runs straight into the back of Efseaff, who is being moved backwards. That's okay, ‘cause on the next play White blasts left over Efseaff and it's TOUCHDOWN UCLA! Justin Medlock comes on for the PAT, which is perfect. The Bruins go 70 yards in 8 plays on their first drive, the key plays being MoD's 16 yard run, Clark's penalty, the Moore-Bragg hook up for 16 and Manny's 29 yard burst on 3rd and 1. The O overcame one allowed (and one disallowed) sack on the drive.

Chris Kluwe came on to punt, and he hit about a 40 to 45 yarder that Craig Bragg returned up the middle, but the play was blown dead. (The Bruins didn't practice any kick-offs/kick-off returns today.)

Drew Olson then came on to lead the 2nd O v. the 2nd D. The OL for the O was Shane Lehmann LT, Alex Potasi LG, Robert Chai C, Tyson Clayton RG, and Bob Cleary RT. Akil Harris was the TB. The receivers were Idris Moss, Jacques Lazarus, and Garrett Lepisto (in rotation). The TEs were JJ Hair and Will Peddie.

The D consisted of: Kevin Harbour LDE, Kevin Brown DT, CJ Niusulu NG, Asi Faoa RDE, Wesley Walker WSLB, Dennis Link MLB, Ben Lorier SSLB, Keith Short LCB, Marcus Cassel RCB, Kevin Brant FS and Eric McNeal SS.

On 1st and 10 from the 30, Harris went off-tackle right, but Harbour beat Cleary and made the tackle for a 3 yard loss. 2nd and 13: blast right with Akil, but it only gained 2 yards. On 3rd and 11, shotgun formation (split backs), 3 wide, Asi Faoa came off the edge so fast that he ‘sacked' the DO before he could finish his 3 step drop. Shane Lehmann gimped around after the sack with a lower right leg tweak. The D held, so back to the 30 it goes….

1st and 10: double tight, the DO drops back, gets great time, steps up into pocket…and notices that Idris Moss is running free up the right sideline: Keith Short has not deepened in his zone, and Eric McNeal has not moved over enough. The DO completes the bomb to Moss for 54 yards before McNeal makes the tackle. The OL gave Drew very nice protection on the play and he found the wide open man.

1st and 10 on the 16: Akil left, Walker blitzes (fills amazingly fast?), but Faoa makes the tackle for a 4 yard loss. On 2nd and 14, CJ just crushes Tyson Clayton, but misses Akil in the backfield, who gains 3 before Ben Lorier makes the tackle.

3rd and 11: 3 wide, the DO sends Lazarus on the fly to the right pylon, but Short and Brant bracket him under and over, Short leaps to deflect the pass and Brant delivers a nice pop on Laz to prevent the catch, forcing a field goal attempt from 35 for Medlock. The kick is perfect, nice to see! The Bruins go 53 yards on 4 plays (not counting FG), failing to get a TD once they were inside the "green zone," courtesy of the 54 yd hook-up between Olson and Moss.

Chris Kluwe then delivered a 42 yard punt that Bragg fair caught. (Free caught? Unmolested caught?) What's so ‘fair' about it?

Back to 1s v. 1s: Tim Warfield in for JLo at MLB, Justin being done for the day. Moore still at QB…

On 1st down, The Boss tackled MoD for no gain, and then everybody tackled MoD on 2nd down for no gain. So on 3rd down, the Bruins took to the air: Moore, from the shotgun, with 3 wide, whizzed a deep out to the left for Jr. Taylor. It was low and slightly behind him, so Taylor had to drop to his left side, but he got enough separation that Matt Ware couldn't get there. A huge play by Taylor and Moore gave the Bruins just enough to move the chains and get a first down.

After you convert a big 3rd down play, whaddya do? That's right: you go long. Moore threw a beautiful, perfectly tight spiral for Ryan Smith up the right sideline, but it was a little long. Clark was on the coverage.

Double tight, #44 as the ace, Moore drops back to pass but The Boss (on a little inside twist with Leisle) breaks through to sack Moore. 3rd and long, 3 wide, a heavy rush descends on Matt, but he evades it, slightly rolls right, finds Marcedes up the right seam, and nails him. Marc makes a leaping catch and bowls over a couple of hapless DBs (hapless to him) for a 30 yard gain. Man, what a weapon to have on the field…

Good thing, because on the next play UCLA tries a screen, except Jarrad Page blitzes so fast that he gets to Matt before the screen to MoD materializes, 9 yard loss.

Moore tries to pass on the next play, but Mat and Dave Ball pincer him so quickly that he is sacked again, even though Moore tries to get beyond the tackle and throw it out of bounds. (Some in the stands [coughDEJAcough] were grumbling about the quick whistles, but the calls seemed fair to me.) 3 yard loss.

3rd and 22: no problem. 3 wide, Moore drops back and again hits Marc on a seam pass for another 30 yards, more broken tackles and another 3rd down conversion, his second of the drive. Poor safeties…

After you convert a big 3rd down play, whaddya do? That's right: you realize that you're working with a short field and can't throw long. On 1st and 10, Matt threw a great ball on a deep out to the right, but this time Junior Taylor can't make the catch, Clark in coverage.

2nd and 10, Moore drops back, gets pressured, and hightails it out of there for a 4 yd pick-up while getting out of bounds untouched.

On 3rd and 6, the Bruins went 5 wide, empty backfield, Moore in the shotgun. However, MoD, split WIDE left, jumped prior to the snap. 3rd and 11…

3 wide, Moore drops, but deeper options are covered. Matt checks down to Taylor a couple of yards downfield wide right, but Chillar and Clark tackle him immediately to hold within the O's ‘green zone.'

With the ball on the 13, Medlock kicks a FG from 20 for another score (3 in a row for the O). 12 plays, 57 yards, 3 sacks for -17 yards, 1 scramble, 2 3rd down conversions, 1 penalty (1 set of bear crawls for MoD), and Moore 4 of 6 for about 73 yards. The Bruins attempted 10 pass plays in a row on the drive. Marc with 2 catches for ~60 yards was the key weapon.

Kluwe came on to punt, and nailed a long, high 50 yarder that Bragg caught. 2s v. 2s: The DO under center. 1st and 10, it's Drew's turn to try this seam pass craze sweeping Fullerton faster than the thermometer is rising: complete to JJ Hair for 23 yards, Brant on the tackle (nice rib shot), and Junior Lemau'u had a nice rush that got deeper than Olson, who tends to step up a lot in the pocket.

1st and 10: 3 wide, Akil heads left, but Kevin Brown completely stuffs the run by driving the OL back into the play, allowing CJ to sweep up the crumbs and tackle Akil for a 3 yard loss. After a delay of game penalty, it's 2nd and 18. The DO drops back, and progresses down to Akil, who takes the 4 yard pass, makes one burst left and then turns it up for about a 14 yard gain, hopefully a harbinger of plays to come with Dorrellius' O when things start to break down.

On 3rd and 4, the Bruins send Akil to the 6 hole, but Harbour, CJ and Short converge on him to stop him 2 yards short of the 1st down. Change of possession, and change of QB: Olson out, Sciarra in.

The D also makes some changes: Bruce Davis LDE, Robert Garcia DT, Matt Amundson NG, and Noah Sutherland RDE step in, as does Xavier Burgess at SSLB and Patrick Pierre-Louis at WSLB.

1st and 10, Sciarra is forced to scramble left by a good rush, and he makes a nice last second pump fake to get the corner on Xman and gain 7.

2nd and 3: twins right, JD Groves as the I back, the Bruins send him left and he gains 9 with powerful, Alstott-like running for a first down, UCLA.

1st and 10: double tight, Sciarra waggles right and gains 7 after getting the corner before PPL runs him OOB.

2nd and 3: double tight, ace, the D sends a blitz up the A gap, and Noah Sutherland applies good pressure to get the sack. Noah reminds me a lot of what the Balls looked like as true frosh…he looks like he belongs.

On 3rd down, the D brings Mil'Von James in as the nickel back. Sciarra in shotgun, but Sutherland turns the corner from the RDE spot and knocks the ball out of John's hand as he moved it forward to pass, incomplete, and the D has held.

With Riley Jondle snapping, Kluwe proceeds to just crush a 57-yard punt with great hang time.

1s vs. 1s with Drew Olson joining the 1st team O:

On 1st and 10, Drew zips a 10 yard curl to Junior Taylor on the right side, who breaks Matt Clark's tackle and goes for 19 total.

1st and 10 again, MoD runs a very subtle delay out of the backfield, Olson hits him with a short pass in stride, and he leaves Warfield and Chillar clutching air as he jets from left to right across the field and up "that far sideline" (that's right sideline to you and me, just getting you in shape…) for a 24 yard gain.

1st and 10 (again!), from the 27: Ace double tight, the exchange is fumbled, but Drew stills manages to get the ball to Drew (I love this stuff), Leisle is about to crush him…but MoD completely slips under him as RL attempts to wrap him up in a bear hug. It was almost comical to watch! Then MoD wiggles, powers, spins and falls forward for a 7 yard gain. You've heard of the draw play? This was the Drew play…simply a great run by a master of improvisation.

Well, screw that, the D says. I right, Drew right, D-nami for a 3 yard loss. A wall of blue closed out the tube on the wave rider…

3rd and 6, 3 wide, Olson drops back, tries to hit Kezirian on the right seam, but MLB Warfield makes a superior break on the ball. Just one problem. He forgets to make the INT; the ball blows through his outstretched hands and flutters to Blane, who keeps his concentration, makes a great adjustment and hauls it in, complete with taking a HUGE shot from either Page or BE2 (sorry!)

1st and goal from the 7: I left, #44 goes wide left and into the end zone untouched, but there is holding on the play (probably a WR or the TE) and the ball is set back to ‘that' 14 yard line. That one right…there.

I right, the Bruins give the ball on a delayed hand-off to MoD, who makes Ben Emanuel miss and tackle, and he gets it up inside for a 10 yard gain.

2nd and goal from the 4: This time the Bruins send Manster White to the right and he powers for 1 yard before Chillar and Page bring him down, with many violent collisions occurring on the play.

On 3rd and goal from the 3, the DO tries a slant to the right, kinda changes his mind at the last second and the ball knuckles to earth untouched. A flag is thrown on the play, and it looks like Matt Clark is picking up his second holding/PI penalty of the day…but then the zebra waves off the flag and the FG team comes on.

Kluwe holding, Medlock from the 10, and it's good for a 20 yard FG. 9 play drive, Olson 3 of 4 for 59 yards (1 deflection that was still completed), 1 TD called back.

Time for the 3s on the 3s:

D: Noah Sutherland DE, Matt Amundson DT, Robert Garcia DT, Bruce Davis DE, Joe Garcia RCB, Jebiaus Brown LCB, Tommy Bright S, Dennis Keyes S, Aaron Whittington WSLB, Steve Seigel (#52) SSLB and David Shipp (#39) MLB.

O: Bob Cleary RT, PJ Irvin RG, Tyson Clayton C, Jason Nitz LG, Shane Lehmann LT, JJ Hair and Will Peddie TEs, and Antwuan Smith, Garrett Lepisto and Jacques Lazarus WRs. QB is Brian Callahan and TB is JD Groves.

1st and 10: Callahan waggles right, throws a perfect pass to Peddie on the drag, complete, and Jeb Brown makes the tackle, but not before a pick-up of 14.

1st and 10: Groves powers left for 6, nice run. On 2nd and 4, 3 wide, Callahan gives to Akil over the right side for 3 yards. On 3rd and 1, Akil runs the stretch left, Keyes zooms up from safety and plugs Akil, but Akil runs through it and goes for 10 and a 1st down.

1st and 10: I right, play action pass, but Bruce Davis blurs around Shane to sack Callahan. On 2nd down, 3 wide, Callahan tries to hit Lepisto on the slant right, but it is a little behind GL and it deflects off his left arm. Dennis Keyes is in the vicinity of the deflection, but he can't make the INT. On 3rd down, 3 wide, Bruce Davis again beats Lehmann off the edge for another sack.

Sciarra substitutes for Callahan, Phillip Raushcer (#95) and William Snead (#48) come in at the Des, and Mil'Von James (#10) and Trey Brown (#19) come in as the corners.

After a delay of game (1st and 15), Akil runs left for 7. 2nd and 8, Sciarra takes his time before hitting Akil on a swing pass to the right, and Akil nets 15 yards and a 1st down.

1st and 10, 3 wide, Akil left for 6 yards. On 2nd and 4, Harris goes for a 12 yard pick-up, but JJ Hair is shaken up on the play and lay motionless for a while. He later returned to the scrimmage…

1st and 10, Sciarra waggles left, Davis is in pursuit of John well outside pocket, and Sciarra tries to throw back across his body, something only Superman can do on a regular basis. The pass is short and wobbly, but at least it is incomplete (ie, not picked).

2nd and 10, 3 wide, Sciarra to Lepisto complete on slant for 11 and a 1st down.

On the next play, the O was called for ineligible man downfield. If not, Davis may have got another sack, or Potasi a holding call…

3rd and 10: 3 wide, Sciarra had a great passing lane open up left for him, and he took advantage of it to connect with Idris Moss for a 9 yard completion on a slant, but it was short of a 1st.

That brought on Kevin Gamarnik, the back-up placekicker. (Showkicker? Winkicker? Let ‘SC have a placekicker, we'll take the winkicker…) Anyway, KG hammered home the 27 yard FG. 8 plays, 2 penalties, and a lot of Akil Harris.

2s v. 2s with Matt Moore taking the helm:

1st and 10: I right, Akil right, and Warfield makes a HUGE hit for zero gain.

2nd and 15 after a movement penalty: 3 wide, slant R to Marc Lewis complete for 9 yards.

3rd and 6: 3 wide, Moore to Moss on a comeback, but Short tackles Moss for a 4 yard gain, and the Bruins' O is forced to punt…

But the world of scrimmage just lets you move it back to the 30 and do over: 1st and 10, Moore and Clayton bumble the exchange, but Moore quickly recovers (he's experienced, dontcha know)and gets back fast, sees Ryan Smith open on a deep cross, and delivers the ball perfectly on time for a 12 yard gain. The D was in man coverage that time and Smith dragged across it.

1st and 10: I right, MoD runs right, crushes Brant trying to make tackle, and makes 5 yds. minimum after contact.

1st and 10: Akil blasts forward for 3 yards. 2nd and 7: Moore makes his worst play of the scrimmage by throwing late on a deep out route, which Marcus Cassel jumps and INTs.

Olson's turn now with the 2nd string:

1st and 10: when Akil goes right, Link and Lemau's (in a Poly moment) are the first to meet him, but a host swarms him over.

2nd and 10: Akil left this time, this time for four. On 3rd and 5, Olson tries to hit Moss on the sideline with an out, but the pass is incomplete…and that ended the scrimmage.

On the day, Matt Moore was very accurate, completing (unofficially) 8 of 11 passes for 114 yards, 0 TDs and 1 INT. He was sacked 5 times by the 1st team D, but not by the 2nd team D. He was 3 of 4 for 25 yards and 1 INT vs. the 2nd team D, and was 5 of 7 for 89 yards and no INTs v. the 1st team D. Of Matt's 8 completions, 6 were to WRs and 2 were to the TE. He led 3 drives, and produced a TD, a FG and a drive ending with a pick.

Drew Olson also had a fine day: Drew completed 6 of 9 passes for 160 yards, 0 TDs and 0 INTs. Olson was sacked once on the day. He was 3 for 3 vs. the 1st team D, for 49 yards, and 3 of 6 for 111 yards vs. the 2nd team D. Drew spread it around, connecting 2 times each to the WR, TE and RB spots. Drew led 4 drives, got FGs on 2 of them, and was forced to punt on the other 2.

Chris Kluwe had a great day punting the ball, with at least 2 shots of 50+ distance. I wonder what may happen in the Mile High city if he gets into one? The obvious concern is whether or not the Bruin punt coverage team can keep up with Chris' boomers…

Running the ball: Akil Harris ran 11 times for 28 yards. Mo Drew ran 9 times for 28 yards. Manster ran 3 times for 33 yards and 1 TD. JD Groves ran 2 times for 15 yards.

In the sack department, The Boss and Bruce Davis had 2, Mat Ball and Noah Sutherland had 1.5 each, Asi Faoa and Jarrad Page had 1 each, and Dave Ball had .5 sacks. The sacks abated as the scrimmage went on, but there were a few times where the QB had no chance to do anything but cover up.

Judging from the numbers and the flow of the game, this was a very entertaining contest. Both the O and the D made numerous big plays, and no side clearly dominated the other. If the QBs were live on the day, a better sense of their ability to make plays with their feet would have emerged, not to mention their ability to bounce back from being taken to the turf. But it is understandable why they weren't. While the coaches may not feel hampered in their evaluations, we on the outside are certainly left with some unanswered questions that only Colorado and the non-conference schedule will clear up.

So what are the impressions at the end of Camp KD?

The Bruins won't be real fancy on O. Expect power runs between the tackles, with a strong stable of running backs such as Tyler, MoD and Manster toting the pig. Expect to see passes to Marc Lewis and Manny in the flat, although that wasn't used much at all in today's scrimmage. And expect to see the slant pattern get thrown at least 5 times a game, which will set up other double move routes later in games. While not fancy, if the execution is there, this O will be very exciting. With the talent the Bruins have amassed at the skill positions, it could be a fun season. But at this point, the Bruins are not exhibiting exotic formations that are great for scraping one defender off another (or even an umpire), creating huge RAC opportunities. With only 25 to 50% of the passing O installed, one can only wonder what is in Karl Dorrell's bag of tricks.

Of course, this means that the OL is key. None of the 1st team OL seemed to have a 90% grade kind of day today, although I hesitate to write this statement without the benefit of looking at the tape. The OL did open up some big holes for MoD and Manster (heck, Manster makes his own holes, he's Stanley Yelnats), and they did provide good protection many times. But they got overpowered other times, even up the middle where Efseaff, McCloskey and Mociler outnumber the down rushers.

But I guess the good news is that the 1st team DL was on fire early in the scrimmage. Many have worried about the DL being able to provide a rush. Personally, I believe that with this team's depth on DL, they'll be able to provide a strong rush even late in the 4th quarter if they get into situations where they can pin their ears back. My fear is that the Bruins will face good counter-punching Os who will keep the D off-balance with great play-calling or great mis-direction. Bootlegs that get the QB outside the DEs do present significant threats to this D. And in today's scrimmage, Moore and Olson combined to go 8 of 10, so completions are possible against the Bruins even though UCLA's secondary is considered one of the 10 best in the nation.

Key match-ups to watch early are places where players are put on an island. Steve Vieira, after moving from RG to LT, is charged with protecting the QB's blindside, and he'll face great pass rushers like Marques Harris of Colorado early in the season.

Matt Clark is also a key guy to watch. As Dorrell has noted, with Matt Ware and his reputation at one corner, opposing Os will almost reflexively test Clark early and often. Thus, Matt Clark could be this season's Jason David, the WSU CB who led the Pac-10 in INTs at one point playing opposite Marcus Trufant. Matt, as the LCB regardless of formation, will be isolated on Mark Clayton, Reggie Williams and other top playmakers at times throughout the season no matter how much the staff tries to do to provide help up top.

Given the strength of the first three teams UCLA plays, a 1-2 or even an 0-3 start is not inconceivable. But if the Bruins play hard and smart (which almost seems guaranteed at this point with the staff Dorrell has put together), they'll be well-positioned to make some serious noise in the Pac-10. Of course, if they come out 2-1 or even 3-0…"I Have A Dream."

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