Monday Afternoon Practice

The offense looks more in sync, the defense uses different looks, <b>Marcedes Lewis</b> looks unstoppable, and head coach Karl Dorrell talks about playing true freshmen and the re-institution of Bruin Walk before the games...

Quick notes on Monday's afternoon practice:

-- Spencer Havner broke his streak of interceptions every day in practice.

-- Tab Perry worked with the kick-off returners and looked very good. It also might be just coincidence, but today, with Perry being able to work out fully for the first time, the offense was far more in sync. You probably can't under-estimate the impact one experienced receiver who runs good routes and can catch passes makes on the quarterback and the offense.

-- The defense continues to use different looks, in many different field situations simulated by the scrimmages. It appears that defensive coordinator Larry Kerr intends to mix up his defensive looks this season quite a bit more than last season. In fact, the quicker, smaller defensive ends lend themselves quite a bit better to dropping back in coverage on tight ends and running backs in a zone blitz than do UCLA's previously huge d-ends.

-- C.J. Niusulu sat out in the morning session with a tweak of his neck, and then sat out the evening session when he tweaked his ankle. But he returned to practice in the afternoon. UCLA can't afford to lose another starting defensive linemen, and Niusulu is also coming off of athroscopic knee surgery from the off-season.

-- Brandon Breazell had the catch of the afternoon, laying out to bring in a touchdown throw from David Koral.

-- Cornerback Milvon James wrestled a ball away from Craig Bragg in the endzone for an interception.

-- Marcedes Lewis continues to show his effectiveness. In the Pac-10, just about every defense uses a Cover 2 as their base defense, and Lewis looks to be very effective in exploiting that soft middle area down the field of Cover 2.

Karl Dorrell's comments...

"That was an exciting practice, with the little two-minute drill, with excitement and competition. I'm excited that these things are coming together for our team. I have to judge it by where it was a year ago, and what we're doing now it's light years from where we were a year ago at this time. We're excited about where we are in camp. We're not done yet, we're not a finished product yet. But we think with the next week and a half getting ourselves ready for our first game, we'll be ready to go. The spirit's good. There is excitement and intensity. I'm quite pleased. Hopefully we can continue this through the rest of camp."

What is the most exciting for you right now about this team?

"The competitiveness. I think it's good and healthy. When you get yourselves in certain situations, like the offense had to score on a two-minute drive and to be backed up in that situation, and the defense making three great plays to stop them, and then fourth down coming down to the offense having to make a play to win a game, and for them to do that, those are huge steps. For our young defense, these are great experiences to go through that for them because there is going to be a lot of pressure on them to get a stop. For our offense we didn't have that kind of success last year in those kind of situations, so we've definitely built from that. I'm definitely pleased with the progress on both sides."

What's a good number of true freshmen to play in any given year?

"There's no perfect mix for that. Right now it looks like we're going to play eight to ten freshmen this year. Four or five on offense, and three or four on defense. They are good players and we have a lot of confidence in them. We have a young football team. We only have 12 seniors total. There are plenty of opportunities for guys who can help us win. We're going to put those guys out on the field and let some of the freshmen see where they measure up. They're excited about this opportunity they have to contribute this year. Is there a magic number? No. But I think it will be in that range."

Is that a typical number? Like when you were at Colorado or Washington...

"No, usually it'd be less than that. Usually only three or four guys would play. Given the depth of our program there's a need and excitement that some of these young players are ready to play. That's what's exciting. We did a nice job with this recruiting class coming in. They were solid from top to bottom. Regardless of how the rating system in terms of where they were ranked, they really fulfilled what we needed. From a coaching standpoint, we filled the bill for what we needed. These guys are going to contribute and do some great things for us."

Who are some of the freshmen who will play?

"Well, there are three offensive linemen on our second team that are freshmen, Chris Joseph, Shannon Tevaga and Brian Abraham. The back, Chris Markey, has had a great camp. He's doing very well. Brandon Breazell, playing wide receiver, is making a name for himself and doing some great things. Defensively we have Kenneth Lombard, who is going to play. Brigham Harwell we'd like to get in the fold, but he's had that surgery, so we haven't had that much practice time with him. Fred Holmes is going to play. He's one of our reserve linebackers. Rodney Van is putting himself in position to play. I might have missed a name or two in there, but those are the guys that we think can help us win this year."

What went into the decision to bring back the Bruin Walk before the game?

"There was excitement there for our family. The most important thing was that our players and families really enjoyed that. It was something that got them excited about the preparation for the game. I hadn't had experience with that. When I was a player here there was no walk. I want to do what's best for our players and program, and if that's something that's important to them, and gets them ready to play, then I'm all for it."

Where did the idea come from?

"I think the idea came from Terry Donahue."

What was the main impetus to get you to reinstate it?

"Talking to our families, the families of our players. That's the biggest thing. I want them to stay involved in this program, through thick or thin. That's what this is all about. If I error in judgement I'm going to error on the side of taking care of our families."


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