Updates on Ware, Leisle, Practice

The report from practice Tuesday wasn't great in regards to the recovery of injured key defensive players Matt Ware and Rodney Leisle. Plus, another defensive player re-injures a previous injury. Matt Moore takes over as the starter...

Starting cornerback Matt Ware and defensive tackle Rodney Leisle didn't practice Tuesday and are considered doubtful for Saturday's game against Arizona State.

Ware was in a walking boot for the first time since his injury. About Ware, Head Coach Karl Dorrell said: He's in a boot. He's not feeling like he's ready to play. We had to do more tests on him. Considering what he wasn't able to do today I'd say it's unlikely he plays this weekend. There is still a lot of discomfort and soreness, and we want to take all the precautionary measures to make sure he's okay."

When asked if it was a setback or that the ankle wasn't coming along, Dorrell said: "It's probably he just hasn't gotten better. Over the course of a few days, over the weekend. I don't know if it's a setback, but it just hasn't responded the way we thought it would respond. We're going to continue to evaluate him."

Dorrell said more tests would be conducted Tuesday night that would help to get a "firm result" about what is continuing to ail Ware.

About Rod Leisle: "He didn't practice today. He's awfully sore still. Given the position and all the banging he has to do, I think it's doubtful, even for his case. But maybe he'll respond in the next couple of days. But as of today he's still pretty sore."

Dorrell said that if Ware can't play, Keith Short will be the starting cornerback in his place again this week, with also some contributions from Marcus Cassel.

In trying to replace Leisle, Dorrell said: "We'll probably have a three-man rotation with Ryan Boschetti playing some three-technique and nose, and also C.J. Niusulu playing both, and then possibly even Asi Faoa playing more three-technique and end, and not the nose spot."

Asi Faoa, however, reinjured his onetime injured left ankle in practice Tuesday and finished practice in a boot. He said later he was uncertain about whether he could play Saturday.

Dorrell provided his opinion of Matt Moore in his first day practicing as the starting quarterback: "He did good. He took a lot of reps today, like a starter, and is getting acclimated with our game plan. He looks like how he looked when he was playing. So we'll keep getting him ready and hopefully he'll be ready to go and take the charge."

Dorrell said he made the decision to start Moore when he personally thought he was ready again: "Last week he was healthy in practice. He did all the necessary things for me to feel that he was completely back both mentally and physically. I think he's still going to wear that brace for a while. He's getting used to that. In my evaluation, I thought he was ready to go."

On whether there will be a difference in play calling with Moore as quarterback: "We're definitely going to try to tailor things for what he does well. I don't think it's that much different than what we did before. There are some subtleties. We'll do some things that benefit him and where he's being as productive as he needs to be for us."

Dorrell praised Drew Olson for taking the demotion well: "The kind of guy Drew is he's going to keep competing. I know that. He won't give up. That's why he is who he is. He had a good practice today with the reps he got. He did some things that are necessary for him today. I'm sure he'll be ready for when his situation arises again."

A big topic Tuesday was what the offense needs to do to get on track. When asked what he can attribute to the lack of production, Dorrell said: "I wish there was one thing. That's what making it so hard for us. There are a lot of areas where we can get a lot better. Some of them are we're struggling to make things work. We were struggling with the issues of when we weren't executing and not making a number of catches on the field, then there has been protection issues, then the running game, then guys have gotten injured, we lose a starting quarterback. There have been a number of things. But we're at the point in the season where we have to make things work. We're at the point that each opponent is going to get tougher and tougher and we have to do some things to be more productive more consistently. We're at an urgent standpoint. We have to get some things done. Sometimes it's one error, or sometimes it's one or three errors on any given play. Maybe we have to limit things a little more to get good at something. We're going to try to do some things that will generate the type of offense we need."

Dorrell, though, didn't want there to be a perception that Matt Moore will be a cure-all for the offense: "I'm hoping that's not the perception out there. I wish it was – that we throw him in and all of a sudden everything works. There are a lot of issues. We're trying to maximize our potential as best we can. Hopefully we'll be able to generate some things along with him being back. He's not going to be the so-called savior, but hopefully a guy who can bring us a spark."

The rest of the team is taking it in stride also, according to Dorrell: "The competition between the two was so close to begin with. The team just want to get going. Everybody on offense just wants to improve. They understand for us to be a contender in this conference we're going to have to do some things offensively that we haven't been doing consistently. I think everyone senses the urgency that we have to get better as a group."

Assistant coach and wide receiver coach Jon Embree said that the bond within the team helped get them through what could have been a divisive situation: "We're really fortunate here I think. A lot of people don't realize. In this program, these guys are close. They all support each other. They understand that different things can happen. They're behind who's ever in there. This could be a situation that drives a wedge in the team, but these guys rally behind whoever is in there, and that's really special."

Drew Olson said all the right things in answering questions about the move: "It's hard. It's not what you want to hear. But I have trust in Coach, respect his decision, and I'll just go from there, and just keep working harder and getting better. If it helps out the team, then it was a good decision. If he thinks it helps the team, then it is."

Olson said he was a little surprised by the change: "Sort of. Maybe this late. I thought maybe they'd do it earlier, a couple of weeks ago when Matt was healthy, so that was only the real surprise."

Olson said that Moore getting the job back because of his return from injury was one reason for the change: "I think that's one of the reasons. I'm not sorry for what I did. I went out there and won five games as a starter. If they feel it's necessary to bring him back in and not lose the job from the injury, I respect that."

When asked if he were surprised by the news, Moore said: "Yes and no. Not really. Coach Dorrell kept telling me when he thought I was 100% that's when I would play again. I was thinking, ‘It can't be much longer.' I'm just excited to get in there and extend this team's winning streak and take it all the way."

When asked if it was a relief to be named the starter again and what it means for his future at UCLA, Moore said, "It's nice to know. As far as my future...dude, I just live one day at a time."

How did he feel in practice? "I felt good. The seven-on-seven was kinda nya. There were two plays that...but that was really it. I felt well."

Moore was asked about how it was taking over for a team on a four-game winning streak and quarterback who has done well: "It's nice. My thinking is, let's do it better. I'm not saying I'm better, but it's something to shoot for. It's nice coming in with those four wins and momentum. It's not like we're fighting uphill."

When asked what he thought Olson was going through, Moore said: "I don't know. I've never been in that situation. I'd imagine it'd be tough. I know Drew is a little upset and frustrated. We haven't really talked about it. But who wouldn't be?"

Moore said there were some key things he thinks he's learned in the past month or so in practice: "I think it's patience in the pocket and stepping up in the pocket. Drew and I don't have break-away speed. He tried to roll out a couple of times and Coach Axman told him to ‘step up, step up.' That's huge, especially when you have d-ends that are faster than you are. That, and patience. With our offense, there is always going to be somebody pop open. And you just have to hang in there."

When asked to find a reason why the offense is struggling, Moore responded: "I don't know. It's little things. Like Tyler's touchdown. Tiny things, blocks. Penalties are huge. The other day we had five penalties on offense. I can't pinpoint it."

Was there a new spring in the step of the offense today that he noticed? "That's something I hope I can bring. I hope I can bring a spark. I want to light it up."


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