Wednesday Practices

Wednesday's two football practices saw an emphasis on special teams, and Matt Moore continues to distance himself from Drew Olson. Head Coach Karl Dorrell and quarterbacks coach Steve Axman talk about the quarterback competition, among other things...

UCLA practiced in "shells" or shoulder pads and shorts Wednesday afternoon, after a full-pads practice Wednesday morning.

In the two practice, Matt Moore again looked like he has established himself clearly ahead of Drew Olson at the starting quarterback position. Not only did Moore take the majority of the reps with the first-team offense again, he performed better, particularly in the morning session. Perhaps the highlight of the morning session was a Moore strike to Idris Moss, with Moss making a great catch.

Coach Eric Bieniemy was riding the team particularly hard today, emphasizing precision and effort in the special teams drills.

Both sessions consisted of quite a bit of special teams work. There are many players taking a shot at returning kick-offs, but it appears that Akil Harris and Matt Clark might be the leading candidates for the role.

Justin Medlock was kicking off, and doing consistently well getting the ball generally deep.

Tyler Ebell took some time off in this afternoon's practice, and Maurice Drew got most of the first-team reps.

Comments by Karl Dorrell...

On the two-minute drill at today's practice: "We're getting a little bit better in that drill. But we need to continue to sharpen up in terms of our communication. We have one more turn at it before we get going next week, so I'm encouraged with it. It's important, I think, that we're clicking on all cylinders on that drill, so that's why we put a lot of attention into it."

On rating the poise of Matt Moore and Drew Olson on a scale of 1 to 10: "He's a six right now. Drew is probably a 5 ½ to 6, too. We need them to be comfortable with what they're doing, where they can understand the reads, and understand where the protection issues are. They're getting better at it, but they're not at the level I want them to be. But I know we can get there within the next ten days. Last week they were a 2. They need more exposure. We have two young guys that need more exposure, under the heat of having to produce to score points."

On whether it prevents him from naming a starter if they don't get to that level: "No, because I have to name one regardless. I think both of them are really working hard to prove their abilities to the team and the coaches. They're under pressure. Nothing is being overlooked. My hat's off to both of them."

On potentially waiting until next week to name a starter at quarterback: "We don't want to do that. We started doing some preliminary Colorado work today. And once you do more of that you want to make sure the starter has most of the reps. So we're not going to wait any further than the end of this week."

On the fatigue of the team: "My whole focus is getting us fresh within the next ten days. We're starting to taper back and locking in with our game plan."

On special teams: "It's coming along very well. We're going to do more. The next two-a-day on Friday will be the same way, when the bulk of the practice will be special teams."

Comments from offensive coordinator and quarterback coach Steve Axman...

On Matt Moore having a lead over Drew Olson for the starting position: "I told the quarterbacks coming out of the scrimmage, if one guy looked to be ahead we'll put him in that position. That's what we did after last week's practice, going into the scrimmage. I thought Matt had better progression. And Drew didn't quite have the week he had up to that point. Coming out of the scrimmage, there was no reason to change that order. However, it's still too close. It's not like one has massively pulled away from the other. And the kids have done a great job. Whenever one guy has pulled ahead, it seems like the other guy comes roaring back. The difference is that Olson has come roaring back but Matt's kind of continued his progress. So right now Matt's slightly ahead."

On the naming of the starter: "It wouldn't surprise me if you guys find out who the starter is when we walk out onto the field for the Colorado game. It's that close. As long as the competition is close, and they're pushing each other, that's the way I would like it. The only negative would be getting the first guy the reps they need. But competition brings out the best and it's brought out the best with them."

On who has the better grasp of the offense between Moore and Olson: "I would say Drew probably still has a slightly better grasp, but the very positive thing is that Moore did a great job of studying this summer and has caught up. He was behind, but I don't think he's very much behind at all. The thing that's really helped him is he's done a great job of studying and learning more about the offense. I still think his lack of game experience as a quarterback is hurting him. He'll make some mistakes that you shouldn't for a quarterback at this level, and then I realize he doesn't understand that. A lot of those things, though, are easy things to fix. I as a coach have to realize what he doesn't understand and teach him."

On who has a better innate sense of reading a defense and making decisions: "Right now Drew does. He seems to go through our progression smoothly. But on the other hand Matt has the natural ability to see things better. He has the height, and he's one of those quarterbacks that has really good downfield vision. Sometimes he'll just see a clearing out route wide open. It really isn't part of the read. But the next thing he has the ball in the receiver's hands. That's a great skill. So his lack of going through the progressions as well as Drew does right now he makes up for it in other ways. They're different quarterbacks but they both have a lot of positives to build on."

On Matt Moore's potential: "The thing about Matt is that he has that big, live arm. And he's nice and tall. He stands very tall in the pocket. And he sees things naturally as a result. Those are things I can't teach. I can teach a guy to throw with more power, but I can't teach a guy to be tall. And you can't teach good, natural vision downfield. There are some certain talents that Matt has naturally that are going to be fun to build on. Drew doesn't have the greatest of deep-throwing ability. He has to really efficient and time himself well and use his body. That doesn't mean he can't be a good downfield passer. But he has to use all of his mechanics very well, while Matt might get away with it because of his big arm."

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