Redshirt freshman outside linebacker Aaron Whittington made the first start of his career last week against Illinois. Whittington said he would start again this week. "That's the plan," Whittington said. Whittington will step into the starting spot in place of Wesley Walker. We'll have a full interview with Whittington tomorrow.
Once again, there was loud noise piped into practice Wednesday to try to simulate the noise level of Husky Stadium.
Craig Bragg has moved into second on UCLA's all-time career reception list with 164 career catches. He needs just 16 to move ahead of the current leader, Kevin Jordan, who visited practice today.
Some things to notice from this week's depth chart:
Comments after practice from Head Coach Karl Dorrell:
"We had a good practice. We're getting our health back defensively. Justin London, you can tell already, his confidence, himself and those around him, feels much better defensively having some experience. He had a good practice today. Offensively we're sharpening up and getting ourselves ready to go. One more day of good, intense preparation on Thursday, and then we travel on Friday, and away we go. It's been a good week so far."
How close is this noise to the real thing?
"How close? That sounded more like a basketball crowd noise. It wasn't really a football crowd noise. But it was loud enough to effective with what we needed to accomplish for our offense. We know that playing up in Husky Stadium there will be a loud crowd of 70,000 people and it gets pretty loud up there, so we wanted to give them an idea of what it's going to be like. It's hard to duplicate that, but we try to do our best."
Is this the best defensive team you've faced?
"I think so. They're pretty aggressively defensively. They play a lot of man-to-man coverage, loading the box with people, and try to stop the run game and put pressure on the offense. So it is an aggressive style of defense. It's very similar to Oklahoma State's defense, in terms of really making it difficult to run the football, and putting pressure on the wide receivers to make plays in the passing game. We anticipate it will be a full 60 minute fight."
Can you see the difference in Justin London in the way he moves around?
"He's feeling better each day. He's still not 100%, but he's a lot more confident each day he's out there practicing. We know it's going to be a slow process until he gets to the 100%, but he's able to play and he'll be able to be effective for our defense on Saturday. You can tell – the louder he is the better he feels. You can hear him in the background right now. We're happy to have him back. He's one of our vocal leaders, and also he lives by with how he plays, too."
How about C.J. Niusulu?
"C.J.'s going to be fine. We gave him some physical work today. We need to just get him in condition. He hadn't had much conditioning the last few weeks. That's probably the biggest issue more than anything – getting him in decent shape to play. He's doing fine. His knee is holding up really well, and he'll be able to go on Saturday too."
Will you continue to rotate Robert Chai on the offensive line?
"Yes. He and Robert Cleary have been rotating at that position. Both have gone a very good job, so both have earned the opportunity to play with our number one unit. Both are confident in knowing what they do. It's a good rotation that we're using with those two particular guys."
Have you come up with your rotation for your defensive line?
"There is going to be a rotation. That's for sure. You're going to see a number of guys playing in there. We're striving to keep improving and learning our defense, and getting our players in the right spots. You'll see much of what you've seen the last couple of weeks – a lot of guys playing in there. It will be like hockey line changes."
As Brigham Harwell and Kyle Morgan get healthier, will we see more of them?
"Sure. They're getting more and more in the fold. They had a handful of plays in the first game, and more in the second. And they'll be having a lot more plays in the third game. They're getting close to their normal health. They're probably about 90%."
Will you continue to play them together?
"Not necessarily. We're going to mix and match, to see what's the most effective line. IT can be a number of guys rotating in with starters. It might be half starters and half not starters. You're going to see a number of guys, so just keep your pen and pencil handy and try to keep up with us."
Have you decided on the two defensive linemen that won't make the trip who have played in the last two games?
"That's a question for tomorrow."
Will you actually only bring ten like you said previously?
"I think we're bringing twelve."