Monday Football News

Karl Dorrell met the weekly press Monday, and answered questions about the Arizona game, the quarterbacks, the injuries and more...

Safety Jarrad Page didn't make the trip to Arizona because of shoulder he injured in the Wsahington game. Head Coach Karl Dorrell said Monday that Page is probably still doubtful. "His situation is probably a little better than how it was last week but we'll see where that ends up by the end of the week, but it's probably doubtful again. He'll need to practice all week for me to feel comfortable with him playing."

Cornerback Matt Ware sprained an ankle in the Arizona game, but he's expected to be fine and play against Cal on Saturday. He was put through some running drills by the doctors and was cleared to practice. Dorrell said, "They think it's a good likelihood he'll get a chance to play this weekend."

If Ware doesn't play, he'll be replaced by either senior Keith Short or sophomore Marcus Cassel.

Jebiaus Brown, the redshirt freshman cornerback who has sat out since Fall camp due to symptoms related to a concussion, has been cleared for physical conditioning. Brown, though, is still not near being able to play, according to Dorrell.

Freshman Joe Cowan bruised a quad in the Arizona game but is expected to be able to play against Cal.

Tight end Keith Carter, out since spring due to a serious hip injury after a motorcycle accident, is planned to get playing time against Cal. Dorrell said: "He should be able to go this week. We're hoping to get him some time this week. We were trying to get him a few plays in Arizona, but he did not play. But we're hoping to get him in the fold this week. He had a good, clean week of practice last week without any setbacks. We're going to try to get him more in the fold this week."

Fullback Pat Norton will more than likely miss one more game. Dorrell said, "Pat will practice. We'll determine his status about playing. He's released to practice this week."

Redshirt freshman center Robert Chai started the first game of his career, replacing injured Mike McCloskey. Dorrell again praised Chai's performance and clarified his statements from last week: "He played well again. I'm glad this was mentioned, because it was not expressed in the right context of what I meant last week. He came in and played last week when our starting center got hurt. I mentioned that he played well, and the whole line seemed to step up. I think that was the raising of the line as a group. The intent was, I was commending the line on how they stepped up and made everything work for us in the second half. It was misconstrued that Chai was the best player that came in. And that wasn't the context of what I was trying to express. I was just excited that our team, in a situation like that, stepped up their pace. That's what I meant to say. This week, he played well again. He had a little bit of a tweaked knee in the game, but he came back and battled, and again, our line has stepped up their pace to do things to help him out, which makes everyone work harder at what they're supposed to do. I'm encouraged by what our line is doing right now. He ended up playing the whole game. He was a little sore after the game. He's getting treatment, and we don't think there's anything significant."

When asked about the production of the running backs, Dorrell said: "You have to give Tyler Ebell some credit. The last couple of weeks he's been playing very well. We've been putting him in situations, and he's been making plays for us. So has Manuel White and Maurice Drew. I think we're doing the right things in the backfield, of finding a niche for all of those guys, because they're able to do some productive things for us offensively."

Senior Kevin Brant replaced Page in the line-up and Dorrell was pleased with his performance: "He played well, for his first start. He didn't miss any coverage calls. He adjusted the back end pretty well. It might be him again. Getting a game under his belt and coming into this week, if it is him again, he'll fill that much more comfortable with that experience from last week."

The quarterback issue lingers. When asked if Drew Olson and Matt Moore could get equal time in the Cal game, Dorrell said: "I don't know about split time equally. I think Matt did some good things in the game, and we're going to keep working with him to get him time in the game. To say we're going to split time, I don't think that's what we're going to do. Drew will start this week and again we'll keep evaluating this week after week. In practice, the starter gets most of the reps. We're preparing (Olson), he's the starter, and he'll get 70% of the reps. We'll stay with that plan this week."

When asked if they would plan some series for Moore, Dorrell said that was a possibility.

Dorrell then was asked to assess Olson's progress: "He's progressively doing things better and better. Matter of fact, there are signs he's showing me. Our last third down in the game it was third and sixteen, and he threw the ball, with a minute and 12 left in the game. He said, ‘You know I should have just scrambled and gotten what I got, just to run more time off the clock, huh?' That shows signs of a guy who understands the game. They had one timeout left. Do they want to burn that timeout then? Those kind of things he's starting to realize as a quarterback, and understand the game a little better. He's starting to understand his role better each week. Does he still make a mistake or two? Yes. But he makes a lot of good things more than mistakes. That's why he's at that 66% completion percentage. He's starting to do things the right way."

Dorrell was asked if Olson is audibilizing: "He's doing that some. He's doing a much better job of doing that, when he recognizes certain things. He's coming along."

Dorrell repeated that the win over Arizona was "fortunate" : "We were very fortunate with our win last week, having a rough start, against a team that had renewed enthusiasm, that had a terrific game plan, to do some things productively and cause some issues for us early in the game. It was key for us to get a win like that on the road, being down at halftime. To come back in the second half and win the football game showed some great things to do some things to win the football showed

"It wasn't our best game to date, if you think how we progressed from week one to week six. But we did find ways to do some things when needed to."

When asked why Arizona's offense had so much success against UCLA's defense: "Whenever you have a change in the staff, and the change offensively was, their play caller was a different play caller, and he had his own ideas of what to do. I knew there'd be some system changes given their situation and we didn't know what those changes would be until game time. It took a little bit of time to adjust to some of the things they were doing. So I think that's what happened, to be honest with you. They had some success running the football, running it in different ways that they haven't shown before. It took us some time to adjust to those issues and we finally did in the second half, and we were able to win the football game. That was part of the process when you play against a team that has an entirely new direction. So they're renewed, and they played really hard. They presented some issues for us but we found a way to make up some issues for ourselves, clean things up, make a few plays when we needed to and we're fortunate to win the game."

Dorrell was asked about the Arizona touchdown pass where the Wildcat receiver was uncovered: "I think it was just an issue that we didn't get lined up properly. That's what happens in football. You scheme, some guys get beat, some guys don't, and it's the same thing we try to do on our side of the ball. There were some looks that we haven't seen before and formationally and we were adjusting to at the time and they had the right play called at that given time. I'm not going to take away anything from what Arizona did. They had a good game plan against us."

UCLA was beset with mis-tackles against Arizona, and Dorrell was asked about the issue: "It was something of a concern after watching the tape. We were in position a lot of the times to make those plays, and we weren't just getting the ballcarriers down. Sometimes it was an issue where we were over-pursuing. We were over-running the play. I think we just have to be a little more patient and conscious about playing our gaps and staying in our responsibilities defensively and things will be okay. I think our defense right now is playing with a lot of confidence, and they're running to the football, and we just have to still play with what I call it harnessed aggression. It's still play hard and play fast, play the way you need to play, but play within the responsibilities you're supposed to be playing in."

Arizona used the shotgun effectively against UCLA's defense, and Dorrell was asked if he could expect to see it from Cal on Saturday: "They may. They may look at this game and think there were some issues that haven't seen from Arizona before that surprised us. They might do that. I know that since we've been through it we'll have our adjustments for it. That's just the nature of football. When you game plan you try to find some weakness with that opponent you've seen on tape."

The UCLA defensive line showed vulnerability that it hadn't yet this season. Dorrell was asked how his substitution pattern of bringing in the entire second-string defensive line at one time: "That's something we've talked about. You could mix and match in there. You could do that. And then there's the philosophy that we've been doing – the wholesale changing of both lines. In either case, you're going to have your lumps with guys that haven't played and haven't understood a lot of things. You have to get those guys some playing time, to get that experience. We've discussed it, and we might do a little bit more mixing in there, instead of wholesale line changes. I'm not discouraged with the way we're doing it. I think the guys will be good players. They've gotten better each week. Hopefully that trend of what we're doing will get a little better. I think our biggest thought of why we do it that way is like hockey line changes. You get the older guys some rest. There are different ways of skinning the cat. We're going to do what we think is best for our team, and right now we think this is best the way right now. But we're not stubborn enough not to change if we think that's the better thing to do. I don't think it's a big issue right now. We have to do a better job of not putting them in situations where they're not making too many aggressive calls when they're in the game, let them play just straight-ahead football."

When asked why redshirt freshman defensive tackle Thomas Patton and defensive end Kevin Harbour haven't seen much time, Dorrell said: Patton is a tackle. Kevin Brown, we're trying to bring along and he's done a nice job for us each week. David Tautofi is back, and he's getting time, and that's the position Kevin Harbour plays. So they're both reserve players in both those positions. I think in due time they'll get their time, but we have a lot of depth there right now. And we're trying to get the key people the time that need that time."

Dorrell was asked about senior defensive tackle Rodney Leisle's getting double-teamed: "His presence is felt in there. You have to pay attention to him. (Despite double teams), the last couple of games he's still found ways to make plays for us. Hopefully he can continue to do that for us. You have to respect all four of those guys, and it makes it hard for any offensive line to take any player away. That's really what we're trying to do. We think both of our ends are good, and Rodney is a good player, and Ryan Boschetti inside as our nose tackle is a good player. If we can continue to play at the level of play in that area, it makes it hard for any offense to take one guy away because the other three can do their jobs as well and cover up for anyone getting double-teamed."

When asked about how the young right side of the offensive line was faring, Dorrell said: "I though the offensive line played well. They protected well. Ed Blanton is doing a nice job, being his first year as a starter. Paul Mociler is doing a nice job inside. They're growing into that position. The line itself is starting to get that unity and cohesion, where they're starting to feel like a unit. We're getting there."


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