News from Wednesday's Practice

There is more on quarterback Matt Moore; an update on injuries, including the status of safety Jarrad Page; freshman running back Maurice Drew talks about the transition to college, and center Robert Chai makes his first college start...

Safety Jarrad Page didn't practice Wednesday because of his shoulder injury and it's unlikely he'll play Saturday. Head Coach Karl Dorrell said, "It doesn't look good. He's still very, very sore. He hasn't practiced yet this week so it's unlikely to me."

Page very well might not even make the trip to Tucson.

Senior backup safety Kevin Brant will more than likely start in Page's place. Dorrell said that Brant brings some advantages to the table. "He knows our defense, he knows the calls, the adjustments, that most of the starters do. So that's his value to us. He knows the right checks, he's in the right spot and he's a good tackler."

Dorrell said that the loss of Page is signficant: "Anytime you lose a starter, you're hopeful that the backup can play close to your starter, and sometimes even better. His non-availability for this game is going to hurt us since he's a catalyst for us on defense. Kevin, with his experience, is comfortable doing calls on the back end, and we think he'll be okay."

When told that Matt Ware had praised Page for his ability, Dorrell said, "He has a chance to be that good. He's only a sophomore and has a lot more to go. We think, though, he has a chance to be one of the type of safeties we have a history of having at UCLA."

The other safety, Ben Emanuel, who was experiencing concussive symptoms after the Washington game, practiced Wednesday with not contact.

Asi Faoa, who sprained his ankle Saturday, had limited work. Dorrell said he'd play but probably not as much as he would normally.

Fullback Pat Norton ran on the sideline in full pads with his ankle wrapped, but he won't be ready to play this week.

Tight end Keith Carter, who is recovering from a long-term hip injury, is continuing to make progress toward getting back on the field. Dorrell said, "He did okay today. The doctors want to see if he can do a clean week this week, and if he can, then we'll try to work him in next week and get him time in next week's game."

Dorrell said that quarterback Matt Moore continues to make progress also and that it's likely he'll see time in the Arizona game. "He's doing better. His timing is coming back, and he's more confident. If he has another good day tomorrow we'd like to give him some time in the game. Maybe design a certain period for him to get some playing time."

Quarterback coach and Offensive Coordinator Steve Axman said of playing Moore: "I'm very hopeful that there will be opportunities for us to play Matt. I hope that happens. But that sure isn't my focus. My focus is to do everything we can to be successful. We start out slowly every game and I want to make sure we come out like a bat out of hell."


Freshman running back Maurice Drew said he's feeling quite a bit more comfortable now, five games into his college career.

"I'm more comfortable, definitely. I'm more used to it now, the hitting, the speed. So, for me, it's just getting more playing time that will make me better."

He said being a kick-off returner has really accelerated his feel for the game, literally. He said: "The kickoff return takes that away some of the shock of the speed for me, since that's the fastest part of the game. They're running at you full speed and flying by you, so that gets you used to it really quick. The first couple of weeks I could barely just get a move. I'm just more comfortable and relaxed. By the time I get in at tailback in maybe last part of the first quarter or the second quarter, I still feel good about it. So it's just a matter of feeling out the defense and reading my keys and not having to get used to the speed."

Drew said that the running backs have made some adjustments in how they read holes and he believes that really helped in the Washington game: "The offensive line has been opening holes all year, it's just been hard to find because they were farther back or not in the place we were looking. Now it's more that we're scanning the whole field now and we'll find them easier. It's easier to find a hole if you scan the whole field instead of looking at one specific spot. That's what coach (Eric) Bieniemy has been trying to teach us lately. On film, the hole has been wide open most of the time, but now we'll be looking around and be able to find them better. That was one of the problems. It really hasn't been the offensive line."

Drew, who has been good in pass blocking, beams when he talks about it. "I'm taking pride in it," he said. "You don't want someone to hit your quarterback. Matt Moore was down, and we've been trying to protect Drew Olson so that two quarterbacks don't go down. It's become an issue, to protect him. I want to make sure my guy doesn't make a hit on him. Sometimes I pick up d-tackles, d-ends or sometimes linebackers, but I'm going to do everything I can to make sure my guy isn't hitting the quarterback."


Backup center Robert Chai performed very well filling in for injured starter Mike McCloskey Saturday against Washington, but he said he still needs to improve. "The coaches said I did okay. I graded out at about 82%. They said I held my own and I did okay. There's always room to improve. I still messed up on a couple of plays, but I did feel more comfortable. The thing is, there are a lot of good d-linemen out there and I still have to improve a lot. The competition is tough."

When asked about whether he's comfortable in his exchange with quarterback Drew Olson, Chai said: I was kind of nervous about that in the Washington game. Usually my hands get kind of sweaty, and I sometimes have a problem with dropping balls. But Drew's good, he helps me out a lot. I'm going to use a towel to keep my hands dry. And because it could be hot in Tucsion, I think this week at halftime I'm going to change pants."

With the center responsible for making many of the offensive line play calls, Chai said he doing the best he can: "With this offense, there are a lot of things you have to know. You have to call out the defense, and see what's coming, like blitzes. I'm doing the best I can, and hopefully I won't make any wrong calls in the game."

On his first college start against Arizona: "I'm nervous. But I'm really excited, and hopefully I'll do well. Hopefully I won't let down anyone."


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