"Two days away and we're excited. We're almost there. Things are coming together. There's a little more pop in their step. They're getting their legs ready for the game. It was a good, crisp practice today. It will be even shorter tomorrow. We're ready to go. We'll peak at the right time. I felt good about practice today."
What's the difference between this year and last?
"We're better prepared. We have more experience in our systems from what we did a year ago. Plus I think we have a better team commitment. Those are the things we're building on and we hope to showcase that on Saturday."
How different is it for you?
"It's a lot more comfortable, for sure, now that all the pieces of the puzzle are in place in a lot of respects, from the support areas, and the staff is in good shape. Our players have built great relationships with our coaches. So we're doing things in a positive way and in the right direction."
What will you do about your injured defensive line?
"We'll have to play some young kids. That's what they want to do when you're recruiting them, play early in their careers, and they're going to have that experience. We'll see how they measure up with those experienced guys. That's just the state of where we are. We're going to be fine. We have some guys who can do a great job for us."
How was Drew Olson today?
"Drew was sharp today. He had a good practice today and did a lot of great things in all of our situational things in terms of the practice schedule. We'll have one more day to do that with him and he'll be ready to go."
How are you handling the Tab Perry situation this late in the week?
"I'm being optimistic. I'm hoping he's going to get the ruling he needs to play on Saturday. He's practicing, he's doing everything we're asking him to do. He's concerned. You can see as the days unfolded this week he's getting more concerned. He's done everything he can do. And we've done everything we can do. It's in the hands of the NCAA, and hopefully it will be a good ruling for us."
Have you been given any kind of timetable?
"Not really. That's the unfortunate thing. We're at the mercy of what their decision is going to be."
Are you getting antsy for a decision?
"Well, no. We have to do what we have to do. We're practicing with a number of people who will play in the same position as Tab. So we're prepared to go either way. I'm optimistic that Tab will be out there lining up with us on Saturday."
Anything new on Tim Warfield?
"No, nothing new. He still has that knee contusion. He's getting a CAT Scan to see if there are any kind of bone issues with it. That was supposed to be today so we'll get those results fairly soon."
And is there an update on C.J. Niusulu today?
"C.J. had his surgery this morning and everything turned out to be better than what they thought and so his recovery should be must quicker than what they originally planned before his surgery. I'm hoping two to three weeks, like the guys who had surgery during training camp. We'll see. Everybody's different."
Comments from Tab Perry...
Are you worried about the ruling?
"I'm a little worried. But I'm just trying to stay strong. I don't want people to see me down. I don't want the distractions. I'm doing what I can when I get in at practice."
What do you think your chances are for playing on Saturday?
"I don't know. I don't know how they rule on these things. 50-50. I think I have a strong case. But I don't know."
Did it worry you that they asked you a couple of times for more material?
"They tried to keep it from me because they knew I needed to focus and get back here. I really didn't hear about it until after practice that day. And I was kind of, ‘What else do they need? I gave them all my work.' UCLA gave them some extra work. And I don't understand what else they want. So yeah, I'm a little worried a bit."
What's the process if you're denied?
"I can appeal. I can appeal right away, like the next day. But that's a week minimum. So that might take me into two games. I can also then appeal another time. I don't know how they do it. After you appeal that time, I don't know how they rule on that. I'm here for the long run, though. I'm going to stick it out all season. I can always help the team."
But UCLA says you're in good shape?
"Yeah. Everyone here says I have a good case. I did exactly what I was supposed to do, and did everything right."