Monday Football News

A starting player and his father meet with Head Coach Karl Dorrell over the player's role on the team, plus the latest on Matt Moore's status, Rod Leisle's ejection, and more...

Sophomore ailback Tyler Ebell and his father met with Head Coach Karl Dorrell Monday morning to discuss concerns about the running back's potentially diminishing role in the offense.

Ebell had three carries on Saturday against San Diego State, his lowest total of the season. Against Oklahoma he had nine and Illinois eight, after getting 18 carries in the first game against Colorado.

In his press conference, Dorrell said that Ebell getting so few carries was an oversight he only recognized after the game. "That was an oversight by us. That's my fault. That's something I didn't see at the time, where Tyler wasn't getting his opportunities in there. That's where I have to be more sensitive to understanding those opportunities. Tyler's proven. He's had a tremendous year the year before, and given the situation of that game, he's been a lot more proven than a younger back. That's where at the end of the game I wonder that that should have been more of my decision, to give him more of an opportunity to do some things for us late in the game. He should have had more reps than what he had. He only had three carries and we didn't notice that until at the end. My only concern and disappointment is that he should have played a lot more than what he did."

Dorrell elaborated, explaining it was a situation that arose during the game that caused them to overlook Ebell. He said: "I think we got caught up with our inability to successfully run the ball consistently. So we ended up throwing more. So when that became an issue of protection, we started playing more with Manuel White in there. He's a bigger back and can help the blitzing. It might be packaging more things by personnel to make sure we're utilizing our best 11 people. That's what we get from this game. We probably should have had Tyler in there doing certain things for us in comparison to what Manuel does for us."

When asked why Drew was in on more plays in the second half than Ebell, Dorrell said, "I really couldn't answer that. I think at the time it might have been to spell Manuel. It was just a decision to throw Maurice in there. It wasn't, ‘Maurice, you're the guy, go do it.' It was a decision that was a spur of the moment. He might have been the first guy the coaches saw to put in there at the time."

Dorrell said that he and the Ebells were satisfied with their meeting. When asked if Ebell now feels that he has a future in UCLA's offense, Dorrell said, "Oh yeah. He just wants to make plays for us. He's like any competitive kid. He wants to make a play, and we want to give him an opportunity to make a play. It's not anything he's done. It was an oversight. We need to make sure we're packaging and getting everybody who are skillful offensively to do some things."

The fact that Mr. Ebell was part of the meeting Dorrell considered a good sign. "Like any concerned parent, they all want the well-being of their son. They want to be heard. There's nothing wrong with that."

-- On the injury front, quarterback Matt Moore has been cleared to practice this week. Dorrell said they were hoping to get back tight end Blane Kezirian this week, but he didn't practice last week so his status is uncertain.

Marcedes Lewis tweaked an ankle in the San Diego State game but he's fine.

Pat Norton is still the worst of the ankle injuries. Dorrell doubted if he'd be back this week, still just getting off crutches.

The longer-term injured – Keith Carter and Jason Harrison – are still on longer-term status. Harrison is still "a ways away," according to Dorrell. The head coach sounde like he might have some realistic hope of Carter returning relativley soon, but said, "He hasn't practiced a week yet. Until he's practiced a week and is able to do some things at full speed, it's hard to put him out there."

-- Dorrell made it clear that, as of Monday, Drew Olson was still very much the starting quarterback: "Drew Olson was our quarterback last week. Matt Moore was cleared to practice this week. He has not taken one snap of practice until tomorrow. So it's harder to determine when he'll be back. He's just been cleared to practice so we don't even know how far away he is from a full-speed standpoint. Once he becomes close to 100%, he'll be weaned into playing again. As far as today, the only guarantee I can give you is that Drew Olson will be there for us on Saturday. I can't really tell you if Matt will until the end of this week."

When asked if he foresaw a scenario where Moore could start against Washington on Saturday, Dorrell said: "I don't think so. I see it as a weaning process of eventually getting him comfortable taking snaps again and doing things full speed. He's missed quite a bit of time and we're going to do what's right to make sure he's ready to go at any given time in our future. To say he'd be the starter, that'd be a slim chance right now."

Drew Olson said he assumes he's the starter until the coaches tell him otherwise.

-- The ejection of defensive tackle Rodney Leisle from the San Diego State game dictates by NCAA rules that Leisle sit out the first half of the Washington game. Dorrell said that it's early, but he's considered who would step into that position for the first half: "It will probably be Asi Faoa, who is a little bit dinged with his ankle. Asi has been our top backup both outside and inside. Hopefully he's healthy enough to do that. But we have a host of young players that have been playing inside with Kevin Brown and C.J. Niusulu. So it could be a mixture of three or four guys to fill that role."

Dorell said he had spoken with Leisle about his ejection. He said he told the defensive tackle: "We don't like that type of behavior. That's not representation that we would want to be a part of our program. He understood that, and understood that as soon as he made it. Hopefully he'll learn from that decision, his penalty, and not have that type of thing happen again. It's one of those experiences that the team should understand that that type of behavior is punishable not only from my standpoint in the program but the Pac-10 and the NCAA."

Dorrell said there could be further internal disciplinary action for Leisle that would be determined at a later date.

-- The kickoff for the Arizona game in Tucson October 11th will be 3:30. It will be televised on Fox Sports Net.

More of Dorrell's comments from his press conference are coming up...


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