Wednesday Practice Notes

The injuries to UCLA's defensive starters seem to be mending. Here are updates on the situations with Rod Leisle, Matt Ware and Mat Ball, who will all make the trip to Pullman on Saturday...

Defensive tackle Rodney Leisle, who's been suffering from a high-ankle sprain, will make the trip to Pullman and there is a possibility he could play.

Head Coach Karl Dorell said Wednesday at practice about Leisle: "He did most of his work inside. He feels a lot better as well. We're waiting to get an extra day of rehab and hopefully he'll be ready to possibly help us. We're hopeful. There's an outside shot of it. It's still listed as doubtful. But he has progressed the last couple of days. And we still have a couple of days left."

When asked if Leisle could practice Thursday, Dorrell said, "You might see him running around."

Injured cornerback Matt Ware, also having been out with a high ankle sprain, reported he felt much better again Wednesday: "I feel a lot better. About 20% better than yesterday. Yesterday I was a little nervous, I didn't want to do too much. Today I did one-on-ones, I did bumps, and did it all. The first play I was thinking about it, but then I wasn't."

Dorrell said: "Ware looked good. He took some reps with the ones. He looked better today than yesterday. So there was no set backs from what he did yesterday. I'm very optimistic. I think he's going to definitely help us this week."

Ware commented on his prospect of playing: "I'm playing. I'm not going up there just to get cold. I want to on the field and get warm. It won't be too hard to get back in the flow of things."

Ware is outfitted with a pretty elaborate brace on his ankle, one that he'll play with on Saturday. "I have pretty good movement with it. Forward and backward is no problem. Sideways is a little different. But I'll get through it, though."

Mat Ball didn't practice Wednesday but is expected to play Saturday. Dorrell said: "We didn't have him do hardly anything. I think we're trying to just get him ready. He's doing all of his therapy. He's definitely better than he was yesterday. We didn't get him any physical work today. It's going to be a game-time decision."

Dorrell reiterated how Ball had undergone x-rays that showed no significant injuries. "He's feeling a lot better and we're just being cautious. He'll practice tomorrow," Dorrell said.

Mat Ball had his own unique comments about his injury: "It's two bulging disks in the lower back. It probably would kill a lesser man. I seem to be some kind of physical specimen, though. It's a special bulge. Two of them. Multiple bulges."

Commenting seriously, just for a fleeting moment, Ball said: "When we get out there and play it's all up to how the back handles it. It would be two plays or all the plays." If Ball can't start, senior defense end David Tautofi will in his place.

Running back Tyler Ebell sat out practice in sweats Wednesday because of the flu. Dorrell said, "He did not practice today. We didn't want him around our players, so nobody else gets sick. He's a lot better today and will be able to do some things tomorrow. He's been watching practice, though. He'll get some reps on it all tomorrow and get caught up pretty quickly with what we're doing. The plan is that he'll practice tomorrow."

Crowd noise was again simulated through loudspeakers at Spaulding Field Wednesday, making every passer-by stop and wonder what was the cacophony that sounded like a jet taking off. Dorrell said the team has adapted well to the noise: "It was good. Another day of doing that again tomorrow. I was concerned that with all the things were doing that it would be an issue, but it wasn't. One more day of noise, and hopefully it will help us and we'll feel comfortable with it."

When asked if Dorrell could be less hesitant to go to Drew Olson now, Dorrell said: "I always have confidence in Drew. He's been a winner for us when he was our guy. He proved it again, that he can come in and move the team, given the opportunity. I still feel as good as I've ever felt about Drew. I know he'll be able to go if needed, and he's practiced well this week, understands our plan, and we have two solid players there. We're in good shape there."

Is Dorrell more confident they can take care of the blitz this week? "We're working at it. I'm feeling better. We're doing a better job communicating, making the necessary adjustments from that standpoint. We're going to continue to work at it. We have a couple more days to get things fixed. Hopefully we'll play much, much better this week than we did last week."

Jason Harrison, the sophomore running back who is still in the process of returning from a serious knee injury, will not make the trip to Pullman despite Ebell's situation. Dorrell said, though, that, for Harrison, there is a possibility he could play sometime during the remaining two games. "There is a better possibility of that. He's close. I would say he's probably 85%, which is pretty good, from where he's been. He's come back from that injury pretty quickly. I think he'll be a kid who can help us in the last couple of games."

Ex-quarterback Cory Paus made an appearance at practice Tuesday. He's in the area to try out for the Avengers, the Los Angeles arena football team. He said he did fairly well at the end of the Candadian football season and could very well return to Calgary next year.


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