Injured starting quarterback Matt Moore practiced in full pads Wednesday, with a light wrap around his bruised knee. He threw passes to the sitting-out/injured team of Tab Perry, Jason Harrison, et al.
Head Coach Karl Dorrell squelched the possibility of Moore suiting up this week for San Diego State. "I think Matt Moore is progressing very, very well, but I don't anticipate him suiting up and playing this week. We're hopeful he'll be able to do some things for us next week."
Starting cornerback Matt Clark sat out the second half of practice after spraining his knee. Dorrell, though, said that it initially appeared worse than it was and that they expect Clark to play on Saturday.
Defensive lineman Asi Faoa's recovery from a high-ankle sprain has progressed faster than expected. Faoa participated in limited practice Wednesday, but said he felt good after practice. He said it's day to day, and in day-to-day situations the doctors leave it up to the player on how he feels. "I've had an injury before on this same ankle, a high ankle sprain. I kind of know how it feels, and I kind of play with it. Today it felt good. It doesn't feel sore. I guess we'll see how I feel tomorrow."
Dorrell said about Faoa: "He's ahead of schedule with his ankle. There's a chance he could play on Saturday as well. That's a bonus for us because earlier in the week we weren't anticipating him playing."
Cornerback Jebiaus Brown continues to not participate in practice, watching from the sideline in just his jersey and no pads.
Wide receiver Idris Moss sat out practice, but it wasn't thought to be serious enough to keep him out for Saturday.
Notes and Quotes:
When asked if he was surprised by the amount of criticism after three games, Dorrell said: "I expected it. I knew that things weren't going to be smooth and that we were going to have some bumps in the road. That was to be expected. I'm not surprised at all. I know I have a job to do, and that's to do what's best for this program. We're on the right track and I hope we get this better just like we did last week."
He said the primary area to improve continues to be execution" "Executing better. Our offense is behind our defense, but our offense is starting to show signs of good things. Defensively we'd like to be even better. We think we have room to improve, even though we have experience on that side. We think we'll play as the season unfolds. I think the offense will catch up with the defense and get going shortly."
For an improved San Diego State game, the word coming from the Aztec camp is that their players are looking at Saturday's game as practically their bowl game. Many of their players are from Southern California and weren't seriously recruited by UCLA and for some it's a vendetta game.
Dorrell said that he's emphasizing to his team that they can't overlook San Diego State: "We're not overlooking them at all. And if people are thinking that we believe this is a gimme game that's the furthest from the truth. This is a different San Diego State team. Probably one of the best I've seen in quite some time. They play excellent defense. On offense they do a good job of running the ball and creating balance, and doing things like their no-huddle offense. It's going to be a tough test for us. We have a little bit of the injury bug within our team right now. We're going to have to play a pretty good game to win this one. I think it's a full 60-minute affair."
Faoa also reiterated the same point: "The team is not looking past San Diego State. The coaches stress it every day. In every meeting, they've told us that this is their bowl game. A lot of their guys wanted to go here. I think the game's huge. Just the fact that we're 1-2 and being 2-2 would build our confidence heading into Pac-10 play. I guess I can only speak for the defensive line, but we're very aware of it."
Wide receiver Ryan Smith expressed how big of a game this is for this year's UCLA, especially the Bruins's offense: "We're about to go into Pac-10 play, starts with Washington next week, so this San Diego State game is huge. Our defense has been playing really well. But for our offense this could be a huge boost for us if we have a good game and get things rolling going into the Pac-10."
San Diego State has been playing very good defense, but also presents a challenge offensively. Dorrell said their offense is fairly hard to simulate in practice. "It is hard to duplicate because they do so many different looks, and they do it from not huddling up. So it doesn't give the defense much time to do their substitutions. It could be a tough task on our defense, but I think we're ready and we understand the type of defense it is, and our kids will have to come out and make some plays."
Faoa said the SDSU offense has looked good on film: "They have that running back that looks good on film. His numbers say a lot. And they have good offensive line, all three-hundred plus, and they look good."
Facing the Aztec's defense is something Smith sees as a challenge: "Their secondary is really impressive. Their corners both play with a lot of confidence. You can tell that in the way they play. They did a heck of a job against Ohio State. We have our work cut out for us. This isn't the team we played last year. And with the way our offense has been struggling a bit, it's going to be a huge challenge for us. But I'm glad we're playing a team that's playing well also. It will be a good stepping stone for us."
When asked what the UCLA receivers need to do this week, Smith replied: "We need to make plays. We need to run after the catch. We need to make big plays to help this offense get going. We need to score some touchdowns this week, that's for sure. Coach Dorrell said three passing touchdowns when he came in our meeting today. That would be huge. I thought we got our running game going last week, and we need to get our passing game going this week. We just haven't gotten on track yet, but we have the potential to. There are plays in our offense that are short dinks and dunks. But there are also plays down the field. We haven't seemed to make those when we've had that number called. It's on us as receivers. We need to make those plays."