Sophomore starting tailback Tyler Ebell has been cleared to participate in this evening's practice. The results of his continuing series of test have shown nothing and he was cleared today to practice this evening.
Freshman running back Maurice Drew quickly claimed Mathis' vacated #21 jersey.
Nickel back Nnamdi Ohaeri practiced fully for the first time in this morning's session. He worked with the second team defense primarily.
Redshirt freshman defensive tackle Thomas Patton was fully dressed, but had his ankle wrapped fully. He participated in a few drills, including a kick-off blocking drill.
Mike McCloskey ran with the #1 offensive line. He was shaken up on a play during an 11-on-11 scrimmage toward the end of practice, but appeared to be fine.
Tight end Marcedes Lewis had both ankles heavily wrapped. After walking very gingerly after Saturday's scrimmage, and taking off for Sunday's practice, Lewis was back today and participating.
Justin London went through all the drills at middle linebacker.
Backup defensive end David Tautofi continues to practice with a soft cast over his left wrist.
Freshman fullback Jimmy Stephens is now #48.
Near the beginning of practice, the wide receivers went up against the defensive backs in a blocking drill. Besides the regular standouts, cornerback Marcus Cassel looked good and physical.
At one point, when a ball was ripped loose and on the ground, defensive backs coach Gary DeLoach was so adamant in coaxing his defensive back to jump on the fumble it appeared he was about to do it himself. De Loach continues to be a very vocal and dynamic force on the practice field.
In fact, you could say it was a very fiery day for the coaches generally, being very vocal and spirited this morning.
The quarterback competition looks foregone at this point, despite Dorrell still maintaining a decision hasn't been made. To begin an 11-on-11 session, when the coaches called for the #1 offense, Matt Moore stepped up to the huddle. Moore received more reps during the practice, and more with the #1 offense than did Drew Olson.
Both quarterbacks had a good practice, both throwing the ball very well and finding their receivers effectively. In a 1-on-1 drill between receiver and defensive back, both Moore and Olson threw terrific long balls, hitting their receivers in stride consistently.
The concern on offense continues to be the offensive line, particularly pass protection. The quarterbacks were pseudo-sacked a few times in practice this morning, and the offensive line got verbal lashings from the coaches as a result.
The run blocking was a mixed bag. Doing a drill that simulated the offense backed up to its own goal line, the defense shot through and penetrated for safeties on a couple of plays. But on other plays, the OL created nice running room for the running backs.
Finding room in particular was again freshman running back Maurice Drew. With Ebell sitting out another practice, Drew again took advantage, getting more reps and shining on various plays. He broke off one off-tackle run for 40-plus yards. A couple of plays later, he scooted through an off-guard seam, cut outside, bounced off a few would-be tacklers that looked sure to bring him down for about another 30-yard gain.
Marcedes Lewis went up for a nice touchdown catch over the middle. J.J. Hair also had a couple of nice grabs.
In fact the receiving corps as a whole had a good day, with nice catches and runs registered by Craig Bragg, Jacques Lazarus, Junior Taylor and Ryan Smith.
On defense, defensive tackle Ryan Boschetti again had a stellar day. He caught running backs a number of times for losses, stuff a couple of more runs at the line of scrimmage, and had one pseudo-sack.
Second-string weakside linebacker Patrick Pierre-Louis also turned in a good performance this morning, disrupting a couple of running plays with great penetration.
Backup middle linebacker Tim Warfield had a solid camp at Cal State Fullerton and that has carried over to the practices in Westwood. He's been a good gap-filler on interior running plays.
In a drill that simulates the last four minutes of a game, with the team in the lead, having to run out the clock and ideally getting two more first downs, Dorrell was unsatisfied with the effort and stopped the drill. He called the entire team together in the middle of the field and, with some fieriness his own, got the team hyped up to finish the drill.
Maurice Drew got more reps as a punt returner. Various candidates were given looks in a run-through kick-off return drill, including Drew, Akil Harris, Matt Clark, Idris Moss, Jason Harrison, Junior Taylor, Matt Slater and Antwuan Smith. It appears that clark and Harris are the two at the top of the depth chart at the moment.
Karl Dorrell's Comments:
On the quarterback's performance this morning: "They did well. We just have to keep pushing them. We have a few more days of heavy work. But the production is good, but they're feeling sorry for themselves and they just have to push through it."
On Wendell Mathis' transfer: "He made a decision late last night to leave the team for personal reasons. I'm very supportive of him and his position. I'm going to help him do whatever he needs to do in terms of transferring or whatever he needs to do to get his personal life situated. His inclination is he wants to be closer to home to deal with some personal issues. He was doing well before he got hurt. He had done a very good job, and it's just unfortunate."
On establishing the two-deeps: "Once we start tailoring back our activity on the field and get our legs back, that will be the point where we solidify where we are. We'll push through until at least Wednesday, get our workload done, and then start tailoring back. And by that time we ought to have our two-deeps in place."
On Keith Carter being out against Colorado: "I think so. We're going to bring him back slowly. We're shooting for somewhere between games three and four of the season. It's very similar with Jason Harrison. We're shooting for target dates but it will depend on fast they progress in the next few weeks."
On the battle for the other starting wide receiver spot: "Junior Taylor looks like he'll be a very productive member for us. He's had a decent camp, but there's still some growth for him to make me feel he would be the starter. Right now Ryan Smith with his experience and intelligence out there, in all likelihood could be the starter, with Junior backing up."
On kick returning: "We haven't determined too much because we haven't had any live work. But in these next couple of practices with our special teams emphasis will give us a better feel for that. There are a number of guys catching, and Ebell hasn't been out there the last couple of days. We'll shore that up soon."
When it comes to Ebell and/or Craig Bragg being used as punt returners: "We have to get our best guys back there and sometimes that's a starter. Right now Bragg is the incumbent. He's the one I'm sure he's the one we'll consider strongly to keeping that role. We'll see how the younger talent develops, too."
On true freshman, like Maurice Drew, getting a lot of playing time: "I don't feel any different using a sophomore or a junior. He's come in and shown he can pick up our system. He's done that, picked up things well, and he's just like any other player but just happens to be a freshman. There are always a few that are sharper and more mature than others at picking up things. That's where we are with Maurice. He's done a great job this whole camp and obviously he'll be in the fold with what we do offensively. What he's done is very impressive. He didn't have the three-day period (that freshman had in previous years prior to full-squad practices), and he had to come in at the same time as the veterans. That shows quite a bit about his ability."