News from Thursday's Practice

Head Coach Karl Dorrell talks about Oregon, and their up-and-down season; the original starting UCLA defense looks to be back intact, and UCLA prepares to send off 17 seniors in their last home game at the Rose Bowl...

With the full week of practice for the final home game of the season done, Head Coach Karl Dorrell said that the original first-string defense would start on Saturday against Oregon.

Defensive tackle Rodney Leisle and cornerback Matt Ware both made it through a full week of practice and Dorrell said both would start on Saturday, Leisle's first start since the Cal game and Ware's first start since the Arizona game.

"Rod has done more than what we have asked of him this week, and he has looked good for us. He is going to start on Saturday for us. Matt has participated in most of practice, and it was nice getting him in some on Saturday. Having those guys back for a full game, that's our defense right there," said Dorrell.

Saturday will be the final home game for 17 seniors. Dorrell said they will be honored with an individual introduction of each senior, and will stand behind the captains, at a hash mark, for the opening coin toss.

Dorrell talked of the importance of winning his final home game and the importance for this senior class: "It's important to win that last one at home. After all the work you put in at that stadium, you want to come out with a win. It's important for us to win this one to, since there are still some things we want to do with this season. I talked to the seniors when I came in and told them this was their team and they are the leaders of this program."

All of the banged-up players from a week ago will be ready, most notably Junior Taylor, who was back in practice this week: "Junior hasn't had any problems with his him. He is still a little bit sore, but he will be ready to go on Saturday."

Dorrell also said that Keith Short, though no longer starting, will see action on Saturday, spelling both Matt Ware and Matt Clark. "Keith did a great job for us when Matt was out, and he is still going to be seeing a lot of action. He'll spell both our corners."

Though UCLA and Oregon both have six wins, making them bowl eligible, each needs to win to ensure a bowl spot. A UCLA win allows them to finish no worse than a tie for fourth, and most likely sends them to the Insight Bowl in Phoenix, with an outside shot at the Holiday Bowl and also a possible inclusion in the Sun Bowl. Dorrell said that Oregon has a lot to play for, even with their up-and-down season: "Remember these guys beat Michigan, and though they had a loss they probably weren't happy with, they are a very talented football team. I assume with all that's on the line for them, they will be ready and focused."

At the conclusion of practice, a pair of Pop Warner football teams from the Los Angeles area scrimmaged at Spaulding Field, one being the L.A. Westside Bruins, who were dressed in the same uniforms, right down to the UCLA stripe, as the Bruins. The Pop Warner teams watched practice, and then the UCLA players took pictures and shook hands with the youngsters before they scrimmaged.


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