Flurry of Football News

There is quite a bit of news out of football practice Tuesday -- with updates on the status of Jarrad Page and Matt Ware, the quarterback situation, and a player who could possibly play on both sides of the ball...

Junior cornerback Matt Ware wasn't as far along in his recovery from his sprained ankle as was previously though, it was discovered Tuesday. Head Coach Karl Dorrell said, "He did a little bit of jogging today but didn't practice. We're going to see what he can do tomorrow. He's still really sore but his swelling is down. It's just really tender. We'll evaluate and see what he can do tomorrow. Right now it's questionable."

Trying to make a judgment on whether Ware can play on Saturday, Dorrell said, "He's going to have to do something this week.. He still has considerable way to go for us to feel pretty good about it. At his position, it's like playing wide receiver with an ankle sprain. You have to run around and cut. And if you can't do those things you can't play your position. He'll have to be considerably better tomorrow for us to feel he can do it."

Safety Jarrad Page, though, seemed closer to returning than previously anticipated. Dorrell said: "He did actually practice with no contact. He moved around and did some things, which was encouraging. He'll have to have some contact tomorrow, which is usually our heaviest practice anyway. I think we'll have a better idea where his status is after tomorrow."

Keith Short is the first replacement for Ware at cornerback, but Marcus Cassel would also get time.

When asked how big of an impact it would be to not play with Ware and Page, Dorrell said: "That's half your secondary. It's a considerable loss. But we have some guys who have taken some reps and done some things for us in practice and hopefully they can carry the load like a starter."

Matt Ware didn't know if he'd be able to play Saturday: "It's day to day. I'm trying to see if I can run a little bit more each day and make cuts. If not, I can't. I don't want to be hurt the rest of the season because I pushed it too fast. If I had to play today, I couldn't play."

When asked about the team also losing Jarrad Page, Ware said, "Don't underestimate Kevin Brant. He's good. He's been on this team for a while, and he's a competitor."

Freshman running Maurice Drew wore a no-hit red jersey at practice Tuesday. Dorrell said that Drew came out of the Arizona game with a sore neck from a stinger. "So we didn't want him to take a lot of pounding today," Dorrell said. "He did everything but full speed tackle type of stuff. He's in good shape."

On fullback Pat Norton practicing Tuesday, recovering from an ankle sprain: "He looked okay. We'll see what happens. There's a chance for him to play. Maybe."

Perhaps the biggest development Tuesday was freshman defensive tackle Kevin Brown donning a white, offensive jersey. When asked about it, Dorrell said, "We're touching all of our bases. We're trying to create some depth in our offensive line. We have a couple of injuries, and at the halfway point of the season, we're trying to work on some things that will help down the line, if need be. He worked out just for a period today (with the offense). He mostly worked out on the defensive side. We're gradually going to prepare him for some stuff on an emergency basis. He's had extensive offensive and defensive background in high school, so that was a natural fit at guard."

When asked if the offensive line is where you might project Brown down the line, Dorrell answered: "I don't think it's fair to say at this point. He wants to do what he can to help our team. He understands our need right now. And he, in his mind, understand he has to be ready if we get to that point."

Brown said he was fine with the extra work at offensive guard: "It's cool. I'm doing it for the team. I'm being a team player, and doing it for just this season. I always said that (I'd do what I needed to do for the team), but now I'm showing it. If I have to step into offense to help the team, I'll do it. I just want to compete. I was doing some extra drills out there today so I can get better. I don't want to look like a softie out there."

Brown, though, definitely felt his future is playing defensive line and that mindset hasn't changed for him: "No, I'm the same way. I'm playing defense. I don't feel that I'm going to play offense next year. But if they need me to step in at different points in the season, in different situations, I'll think about it."

Being asked to play offense Brown said he took as flattery, saying, "It's a cool gesture."

The freshman DL said that he's really improved through just half the season: "My technique has gotten 100% better. When I played in high school I didn't really get the technique down because I was playing offense most of the time. Coach Johnson has helped me out a lot. He's great."

Dorrell said there weren't any more immediate plans to move other players to the offensive line.

Quarterback Drew Olson got the starter's share of the snaps Tuesday (70%). Dorrell commented: "He is the guy for now for the job because he's done a nice job, and we're still working to get Matt Moore back in the fold. That's kind of our position at this time."

Matt Moore said he was now "100%" physically. "I'm ready to go," he said. "My timing is all the way back I feel right where I'm supposed to be, right where I left off."

When asked why he thinks he's not starting and if it weighs on his mind: "I don't know. Good question. I don't know. But there's nothing I can do about that, though. We're winning games and on our way to our goal of winning the Pac-10. Right now we're doing a good job and I think it's out of my hands and I have to play my part. I'm definitely thinking about it a lot. It's frustrating a little bit, being in the position I was in. I'm still learning to deal with it. But I'm going to go on dealing with everything. It's not breaking me down or anything."

Junior safety Ben Emanuel could be the only true veteran left in the defensive backfield this Saturday against Cal. When asked how it would be playing without Ware and Page, Emanuel said: "That's going to be hard. Whoever we have out there we'll have full confidence in them. We'd love to have Matt and Jarrad in there, because they're such a big part of our defense. Hopefully they'll be cleared to play, but if not, the people who can step in will do a good job for us, and we'll just have to make up."

Emanuel said he is aware when he's playing without his usual teammates: "Yeah, it's funny. Sometimes I am and sometimes I'm not. It will catch me, I'll look and say, ‘Whoa, where's Matt? Where's Jarrad?' Because I'm so used to them. When I realize they're not there it's really weird. You trust those guys so much. We have a rhythm of playing with each other, we know each other's responsibilities. It does mess up our rhythm a bit and it'd be good for those guys to come back as soon as possible. But both Kevin Brant and Keith Short played well, they both did good jobs. Kevin is experienced. He's a fifth-year senior. At the same time, it's different without Jarrad. I have faith in Kevin, though. He knows what he's doing."

When asked if the lapses in the defensive coverage against Arizona was a matter of not lining up properly or breakdowns, Emanuel said: "A little bit of both. We just weren't really smooth as a whole as a defense. That carried over to certain plays. In some situations we have to get lined up faster. It also was them changing their scheme. They came out with different things than what we were prepared for. Then with different people in the mix, it threw us off and we were a little out-of-sync."

Will Cal present similar problems or will the defense be prepared? "I think so. We learned our lesson. You won't see the defense play the way we played last week. We know we have to go out there, and no matter who we're playing, tackle, wrap up and pursue, and play our responsibilities. We learned our lesson last week and we were able to get a victory. This week against Cal, we'll be fully prepared for anything they bring. We're looking forward to it. It's going to be a big-time game."

Bruin Report Online Top Stories