Preparing for Scrimmage Today

The team practices lightly, preparing for today's scrimmage. The offense makes some dents in the defense, while a couple of big-named young prospects make a visit to Spaulding Field for practice...

UCLA practiced in what they call "light bulbs," which are just shoulder pads and helmets, Thursday, taking it a bit lightly before the planned scrimmage Friday.

In a controlled scrimmage Thursday, the offense made a dent in the defense. David Koral, the JC quarterback transfer, hit walk-on wide receiver Chris Steck on a post route for a touchdown against the #2 defense. Maurice Drew continues to be the biggest standout on the team, busting nice runs with his quickness, burst and ability to stay on his feet.

Justin Hickman returned to action. He worked with the #2 defense, while redshirt freshman Bruce Davis is working with the first string.

There are still no real changes to the starters, almost three weeks into spring practice. It's been only because of injury that someone has been moved into the starting lineup – with Idris Moss more or less taking the reps with the #1 offense after Joe Cowan was injured. Marcus Cassel continues to line up as the starting corner, despite the word that redshirt freshman Trey Brown and redshirt sophomore Jebiaus Brown have really impressed this month. Head Coach Karl Dorrell said, if there were going to be any significant changes to the depth chart it would happen after spring practice concluded, and the coaching staff had the entire spring to evaluate.

Practice got a bit intense Thursday when a couple of minor skirmishes broke out. Dan Nelson, a former junior Olympic state boxing champ in Idaho, got in a flurry of quick punches to the mid-section of offensive lineman Bob Cleary.

Dorrell said: "Tempers were flaring. What happens is one guy gets beat, and the guy who got beat throws the first punch. We don't want that type of behavior. It doesn't produce anything positive. We have to learn how to play and stay disciplined, know that you're going to win and lose some battles. The goal is to win the majority. They're just getting used to the practice tempo, and tempers flare. I do like the intensity, though. It's something we're trying to restrict and make sure it's being done in a constructive way, but the intensity level is better than it's ever been since I've been here."

Dorrell commented about the work of the secondary during spring practice: "Some of the young players have done a nice job. Chris Horton and Dennis Keyes have had good springs. Marcus Cassel has had a good spring. Jebiaus Brown has had a good spring. There are some guys who haven't been starters who are getting a chance at reps and doing good things. Ben Emanuel has had a solid spring as a returning veteran. He and Matt Clark, those guys have played solidly. It's good to see the young guys get in the fold and show what they can do. I'm encouraged by what I've seen so far."

Dorrell also commented on the development of junior tight end Marcedes Lewis: "He's getting better. He's really starting to become a better run blocker. That's something that hasn't been one of his strong points before. That's where I see a lot of growth in him, in the running game. With the throwing game, he's starting to be more physical in terms of taking on people more. He's young, and he's growing. He didn't get a chance to redshirt. This is his third year playing, and he really should be a redshirt sophomore. Hopefully, as a junior, things will start getting in a groove for him, with his experience."

On the progress of the offensive line: "Considering our numbers, the guys we have are getting better. They're really getting better. They're fighting and playing hard. Tom Cable has come in and put in a foundation of good fundamentals for them. You can see that paying off for them. Once they get more familiar with our offensive schemes, they'll be better than they were a year ago."

Dorrell said he's looking toward Friday's scrimmage with great anticipation: "I'm hoping tomorrow's scrimmage will be better than last week's. That's the goal, that we improved after a week. I think we've had a chance to get a lot done on both sides of the ball, and we'll see if it comes through tomorrow. It's a big day for everybody. I challenged everybody, to see if we can do something better than we did the week before. Drew Olson is automatically in the spotlight because he's the one that starts every play. We're hoping he has more command and poise than what he did last week. We've tapered down some of the things we tried to do this week, trying to correct a lot of issues, so hopefully you'll see a lot of guys flying around and making some plays."

In attendance Thursday was former Bruin running back great, Wendell Tyler, along with his son, Marc Tyler, who is a freshman running back at Westlake Village Oaks Christian. Tyler reportedly was good enough last season to earn some playing time, in a backfield that included UCLA commit, Aaron Ware. Also in attendance was Oaks Christian freshman quarterback Jimmy Clausen, the youngest of the Clausen quarterbacks and considered to be a very good prospect. The youngest Clausen looked to be about 6-2, standing next to Drew Olson and David Koral. He and his father were very familiar with Olson Koral and walk on quarterback Eddie Miller.


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