Cornerback Matt Clark has yet to be re-instated to the team, but Head Coach Karl Dorrell believed that he'd hear something very soon. "We'll hear hopefully an answer sometime today. If not, tomorrow. Again it has to go through a process and we'll see what happens," Dorrell said.
Practice has been spirited the last two days, according to Dorrell. "We've had a couple of good days. We'll keep doing what we need to do to improve on the issues we need to improve on and be ready to go on Saturday."
The coaches turned on the loud speakers today, blaring pseudo-crowd noise onto Spaulding Field.
Tab Perry being back on the practice field and running with the team, according to Dorrell, is a result of Perry serving his punishment. "He had a deadline he had to serve. That's why he's out now. He's served his deadline."
No one who is expected to play Saturday was held out of practice Wednesday.
When asked if the fact that Rod Leisle didn't get a tackle in the Illinois game was a matter of the Illini double-teaming him or running away from him, Dorrell said: "Part of the d-line's objective is to tie up the line of scrimmage, so the linebackers can make all the plays. That's a sign of a great defensive lineman, when they're able to do that, and a guy like Brandon Chillar ends up with 13 tackles. He [Leisle] does his job very well. I don't think he's that concerned with how many tackles he's made. Obviously he'd love to have some tackles for losses in the backfield. He's done a great job for our defense, and the whole system works, and he's right on schedule."
Catch the Ball
Tight end Marcedes Lewis talked about his preparation this week, after dropping passes against Illinois last Saturday: "I think the biggest thing is to focus. Those balls I dropped were unexplainable. I don't usually drop passes, so it was a gut check for me. This week I've been focused and have tried to work even harder than the week before. I've done pretty good and hopefully I'll keep it up into Saturday. But the last game, it really woke me up. I realized, it can happen to me. Now all I'm doing is focusing, listening and trying to get better."
UCLA's Struggling Offense Facing Oklahoma's Defense
In regards to Oklahoma's vaunted defense, Dorrell believes it's a matter of better preparation for his offense to succeed. "It's a very good defense. It doesn't have as many holes as a lot of particular opponents we'll play. But what we'll try to do is do a better job of executing on what we need to do on offense in terms of success in being able to move the football and hopefully putting ourselves in scoring situations."
Offensive tackle Steven Vieira has definitely done his studying of Oklahoma's defense, specifically one player: "There is a little more sense of urgency this week since they are a tough defense. It is a challenge. I'll face their d-end, #80, Dan Cody. He's about 6-5, 270, very fast, very strong, quick, agile, reads blocks well. He's a good football player. I'll have to keep a focus on my pass protection then I should be good to go."
Lewis could be a big factor for UCLA's offensive success. He said: "The coaches haven't told me that I'm going to be especially a big factor, but looking at some of the plays we've been running, I think I'm going to be a critical part of the offense. So I just have to work hard, and try to be accountable and be there when the team needs me."
Dorrell denied that the offensive struggles are due to the players still learning the system: "I think it will continue through the season for it to be a learning process. But that doesn't explain when you have non-execution during the game. Yes, they are still learning, but yes, they have been put in situations where we can capitalize on things we could have done and we haven't been able to do so."
Matt Ware Blossoms
Now in his third year at UCLA, Junior cornerback Matt Ware said he's feeling more comfortable and experienced, and attributes it to being in the same position for a longer period of time. " I feel more like a veteran and confident, definitely. Having game experience and being at cornerback the whole time, from spring until now, it helps a lot. It means the world to be at one position."
Ware said he's studied Oklahoma's offense and their quarterback, Jason White: "They have an offense that relies on the deep ball a lot. They make people miss and try to make big plays. That's what their offense is all about. They have good receivers. Their quarterback, He's good. He's not really mobile, but he knows their offense well. He's been there forever. He knows what he's doing out there."
The Oklahoma Crowd and Noise Factor
Playing in front of a big crowd at Memorial Stadium is a big challenge in itself for the players. Vieira said: "Once the crowd gets going, you have 85,000 people, in a hostile environment like Oklahoma, it's difficult. They're all wearing red, yelling at us, screaming, giving us the middle finger. If we can get them out of the game it will help take Oklahoma out of the game."
Lewis also thought that the loudness of the stadium would be a factor: "We haven't heard this kind of noise. Not even close. Last year when we were at Oklahoma State it was loud. But they weren't the #1 team in the nation. I'm expecting it to be very loud, with mean fans. We're just going to have to focus, pay attention to detail and work hard. The speakers out here at practice help, but I'm sure it's not even close to what the real stadium is like. I don't think we'll know until we step foot into the stadium."
What the Game Means
Matt Ware did comment about what the game means: "Everything. It means everything for the program. It's a huge game. #1 in the nation. Oklahoma. With their history, it's everything. It's a great opportunity for us. That's the way I see it so I'll be ready."
Vieira: "That's why you come to UCLA, to play big-time football and play big-time teams. I think we're ready to step up to the challenge. We've worked hard all week, with a great focus, and we're preparing ourselves to get things done. And I'm kind of excited about this."
When asked if it was the biggest game he's been a part of at UCLA and what it means, Lewis said: "By far. I can't even explain it. I have a chance to be a part of something that's great. Playing the #1 team in the nation. I think we'll be ready and we'll seize the moment."