Tuesday Practice News

There is some good news about cornerback Matt Ware and defensive end Mat Ball as the team prepares for Pullman and Washington State, and Head Coach Karl Dorrell provides his quick opinion on the season so far...

Matt Ware, the junior cornerback, practiced fully Tuesday and looks to return to action Saturday against Washington State.

"He did everything today," Head Coach Karl Dorrell said about Ware at practice. "He practiced with our twos and did okay. I think a couple more days of practice, and it was encouraging what we saw today. It looks like he could make the trip."

Ware said he was surprised a bit himself by how good his sprained ankle felt: "I feel a lot better than I thought I would today. It's feeling good right now. We'll see how it feels tomorrow when I do other stuff, but right now it feels good. Once I got in there in the 7-on-7, I kind of forgot that I had any injury at all. I felt it, but it wasn't like I was limping or anything. I was able to run pretty good. It took me a little to get started but I can go. It loosened up. Back-peddling and running forward is fine. Cutting, though, is different."

Dorrell was pretty confident that Ware would play Saturday, but skeptical he would start. He said, "I would say the likelihood is no. I think he's just getting back into the fold here of practicing and maybe helping us this Saturday. I don't think he'll be starting."

When trying to project how much he could play Saturday, Ware said: "I don't know. I didn't think I'd be able to do what I did today. If I wake up tomorrow and feel better I'll know more about what I could possibly play. I don't know right now."

When asked if it would difficult for him to get back in the swing of the game, Ware said, "Maybe last year I'd be concerned. But I've played a lot of games, so it won't be too hard to get back in the flow of things. Maybe a couple of plays."

Ware wore a sizeable brace on the ankle at practice and said he'd be outfitted with a smaller one for the Washington State game.

Dorrell commented how depth at defensive back is key against an offense like Washington State's: "It's real important. We need to make sure we have enough people in our backend to accomodate some of the offensive sets that they do. They spread the offense quite a bit and we need to make sure we have the depth needed to help do what we need to do from a defensive standpoint."

Defensive end Mat Ball, who missed most of the Stanford game because of a lower back strain, didn't practice Tuesday but Dorrell believes he'll be ready for Saturday. "We're hoping he's going to be ready to go as well. He didn't do anything today. We just wanted to rest him and do some therapy with his little bit of a back problem. So we want to see what he can do tomorrow."

Ball did undergo x-rays Tuesday but they were negative.

Tyler Ebell didn't practice due to a stomach virus. Dorrell said, "We had a bit of a flu bug. Hopefully he'll be back tomorrow. We had other guys feel it Sunday, so maybe it's just a 24-hour thing."

Defensive tackle Rodney Leisle didn't practice and is considered out for Saturday's game.

The team practiced in shells, which is just shoulder pads and shorts. Dorrell said it reflects a bit of a late-season shift in philosophy: "Just to get a change in purpose. It's the last three games of the year and we're going to kind of take a different approach where we're going to focus in on details, like we've doing all along, but not do as much physical work. The physical part is not what's needed right now. It's preparation, and doing things positively and correctly. So those are the issues we're trying to address right now. But we'll be pads tomorrow. We thought it'd be a breath of fresh air to do something different."

Dorrell said there isn't much you can do to prepare for the adverse weather you might experience in Pullman: "I don't think you can prepare. It's getting cooler here, but not quite what it will be up in Pullman. It's usually not a big issue, unless it's snowing and sleeting. You can actually get excited about playing in weather like that. I think some of our guys are hoping that it snows. We'll take whatever weather comes."

Dorrell said the matchup with WSU is interesting: "We're kind of two different teams. They're a wide open offense and we're not as much. Our defense is more of a zone-coverage defense and their defense does a lot of different things. We're two interesting teams and our matchups are just contrasting opposites."

Ware said he's impressed with WSU's offense: "They have a lot of talent. Two good receivers in Davard Darling and Sammy Moore. They have some pretty good guys in the middle and some pretty good running backs. They're a pretty good offense, so we have to be ready." Ware on coming off a loss: " We've tried to learn from our mistakes from last week and get prepared for this game. We're still playing for a Pac-10 championship. We're focused."

When asked how disappointed he was over the loss against Stanford, Dorrell said: "We were disappointed on Sunday, but now it's Tuesday and we've moved on. We're getting ready for Washington State, and preparing. You learn from those issues when you have a loss like that but you can't dwell on it very long. We're moving on and hopefully playing much better this week."

Dorrell was asked if he was pleased with the season to date: "No. Particularly after losing last week. We should be a much better team than where we are right now. But we can't dwell on that anymore. We have three games left. We're still in the hunt, tied for first with two other teams and we're going to make our best effort to keep ourselves in the hunt."

Craig Bragg has become the first player in UCLA history to make at least 50 receptions in two different seasons (55 in 2002 and 50 in 2003).


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