On the defensive line, with C.J. Niusulu suspended for the San Diego State game, Eyoseph Efseaff, the senior converted offensive lineman, will start. With one true freshman, Kenneth Lombard, doubtful for the game with a shoulder injury, the other true freshman, Chris Johnson, looks like he will come out of his projected redshirt year to add depth.
At linebacker, Justin London is still hampered by his high ankle sprain and might not play much against San Diego State. Aaron Whittington, who started at outside linebacker against Washington, is still feeling his hip pointer and didn't get many reps in practice Wednesday.
Because of these injuries, it appears that Wesley Walker will start in place of Justin London at middle linebacker and former walk-on, senior Ben Lorier will start at the other inside linebacker position, with Spencer Havner moving back to the outside linebacker position he played last season.
Lorier went from Cal State Northridge, who dropped their football program, to walking on at UCLA, to now starting this week. He said, "It feels great to finally get my shot. You put in a lot of hard work and it's great to get a shot."
When asked if he feels the start is rewarding, Lorier said, "Oh, yeah. To see my name up on the big screen at the Rose Bowl. The coaches gave me a shot, I'm going to do the best I can and not let them down."
Is he nervous? "I'm about 99% excited and about 1% nervous. I'm ready to get out there."
Head Coach Karl Dorrell said that Whittington would play. "He's still hampered a little bit, but he'll play. But he won't start. He is feeling better, but we sat him today."
Defensive end Bruce Davis has been getting looks at linebacker for the last couple of weeks, practicing at the outside linebacker position. Dorrell said that Davis will probably see a few plays at the position against San Diego State. Davis said, "I'm just doing a little bit of both positions right now. Just in case they want me to ever go in, they want me to get comfortable with the position. I've been practicing at linebacker for a couple of weeks now. I know the plays, and I'm confident I can play that position if it comes down to it."
Davis said, if he had his choice, he prefers defensive end, since it's the position he knows. "But I'll play whatever. As long as I'm on the field, I don't care. I might right now be better at defensive end since I've been doing it my whole life. But I'm just trying to play. I think physically I'm able to do both."
Spencer Havner leads the nation in the most tackles per game, averaging over 15.
Post-practice comments from Dorrell....
"It's game week again and we're excited. It was another good day of practice. It's nice to get an extra day of preparation coming off a bye week. We're ahead of schedule in terms of our preparation. We did a nice job earlier in the week. Today we took off half the pads, and still had some contact, but not much. Tomorrow we'll take off even more and continue to try to sharpen up, and get ourselves ready for a very good team this weekend. We're ready to go."
Anything new on Tab Perry?
"Tab has that mild – it's really not a strain – but it is some tightness in his hamstring. We just want to make sure he's available for us in the game. We didn't have him do much today. He stretched and did some jogging, and caught some balls, and did some light things like that. We just want to get him ready to play on Saturday. We didn't want to intensify that injury at any time."
How about Kenneth Lombard?
"Lombard is still pretty sore. He's trying to practice. But the likelihood of him playing would not be good. I would say it's very doubtful for him."
Who will start at defensive line?
"We have our two ends that normally start, and then Kevin Brown will be a tackle, and Eyoseph Efseaff who will start. And Chris Johnson in there, too. It doesn't really matter who will start, because there is going to be a rotating emphasis with that defensive line as we talked about before."
What's Justin London's status?
"He wants to play. He's getting better and better, each time he comes out on the field. I want to be as smart as I can, because there's a lot of football left this season. It's one of those injuries if you continue to bring him back too early it will continue to bother him the whole year. He might play a little bit, but I don't know how much I want to play him. We have some very capable people who can come in and do a good job for us. And those guys that are ready for that challenge are ready to go."
Is there any kind of feeling of wanting to keep Chris Johnson out of the game to preserve his redshirt year?
"Not really. He wants to play. It's more on the coaches' part. We're not sure if we're willing to do that. And it is only game four of the season. There's a lot of football left, and he sees this as a great opportunity in helping this football team, so we're excited that he's excited to help us. We'll probably head in that direction."
Will Tab return kicks in the game?