Dorrell's Monday Press Conference

Of course, after a win like the one against Stanford, Head Coach <b>Karl Dorrell</b> is upbeat about the team and its chances for the rest of the season. He talks about the new leaf turned over by the defense...

Head Coach Karl Dorrell addressed the media in his weekly Monday press conference.

"It's a new week in the Pac-10 race. Recapping from our game, it was, needless to say, a very good win. It was a team win, where our defense played its best game, and our offense played a solid game in getting some points on the board and controlling the line of scrimmage. Our special teams had a good return that amounted to seven points. It was a great team effort. I was real excited about the progress that was made as a team. Just speaking about our defense in terms of the things that happen in the game that are really encouraging was 83 yards rushing against Stanford, a very explosive offense. To limit them to under 100 yards rushing is really a good feat for our defense, for what they've done over the course of our season. Their total offensive numbers were 307 yards. We had three interceptions, two sacks, eight tackles for losses. It was a very, very productive game. The biggest point I'd like to mention is what we talked about a week ago, which is finishing a football game. Given what our defense did in the last four plays of the game, sure, we would have won the game at that given point. But to shut out the team and not let them score at the end of the game, shows you about the emphasis of what we're trying to get done, from what happened at Arizona State, going into the Stanford game. So it was a tremendous improvement on that side of the ball. We're excited about where we're at defensively, still knowing we have a lot more to improve upon going into this week against Washington State.

"Offensively it was a solid performance. It didn't have the consistency that we wanted as coaches and players. We hold our offense to...demanding production opportunities. When we had some opportunities to do things we came up short, particularly in the redzone. We fumbled once, with Maurice Drew fumbling within the 20-yard line. And then we missed a field goal after a very impressive drive in the fourth quarter. I don't know if you noticed, but that drive took off 6:11. We got the ball at the 9-minute mark and we didn't relinquish the ball until 2:49, when they retained possession of the ball after the mis-kick. On that drive there was ten runs and one pass. And that's a great statement for an offense to do, when you're trying to take some time off the clock, and put the game under control. It was nice to see that type of effort from our offense in trying to finish a football game.

"Special teams, it was nice to see Drew with a nice return. It was well-blocked. It was a pretty thing to see on the sidelines, and even a prettier thing to see on Sunday, when we watched it on tape. It's nice to see those plays start to happen for us. In a nutshell, it was a great overall performance by our program, by our football team, understanding that we still have a lot of ways we can improve going into this week. The trend that we're building, that most people haven't expected, is that we're getting better. We're getting better as the season is unfolding. Our health is pretty good. We're excited about the opportunity we have this week against Washington State."

Will Maurice continue to return punts or will Craig Bragg get some of those as well?

"Maurice will continue to return punts. Craig will also be in the fold now that he has a full bill of health. He played half the game last week and he is ready to return as a full-time starter and he will be some reps as a punt returner."

Looking at the film, what could you tell the defense did that was different?

"It was all sorts of things. We were able to get some pressure on the quarterback with our four-man rush, which was nice to see. We didn't have to blitz as much and we could stay in our coverages more. Our linebackers did a nice job in the run responsibilities. So we didn't have to do so many things to stop their run game with what we were doing with our base defense. The secondary played very, very well. We didn't give up many big plays. They had that one big play at the end of the game that was almost a score and our defense did a great job in finishing the game."

Have they cut down on mistakes?

"They have cut down on a lot of mistakes and that's a big reason for most of that improvement. We still made some mistakes and we still know we can play a whole lot better than what we played. And that's what's encouraging, not only for us, but for our players. They see what we are trying to get accomplished and they see the results when you focus on the details."

How much did the defense need Saturday's performance as a confidence factor?

"It's more of a team perspective more than anything else. It was good to see the whole team have a full productive day in all three phases. We haven't had that type of continuity throughout the whole season. We've had some days where we've won some games, but one side or the other wasn't playing well. This was a great team effort and a great team win. To have the defense play the way that they played, offensively, to take control of the line of scrimmage and do some great things in our run game. And for special teams to come up with some big plays."

How did Justin London look to you?

"Justin looked pretty good. He played 29 plays in the game. He'll increase his role this week without any setbacks from his surgery. That was one of those things that added to some of the success of our defense - to get some of the health back. Some of those younger players that have been playing are more familiar with what we are doing defensively and are being more productive. Everything is starting to come together."

Talking about things clicking in, to what degree  do they now get what you're trying to teach them?

"They've improved some degrees. There are a still many degrees to go, but they have improved quite a bit. We are excited about just being in this position. Our health is pretty good at this point in the season. We are into week nine of our season and we're about at full health. We have lost a player or two with some injuries that were reserve players, but we're in pretty good shape from a health standpoint. Justin London, I don't want to underestimate what his value is for our defense. Even though he is not at full strength, he's about at 85% or 90%. He's getting over an injury that is mentally now not weighing him down so much. He's playing through the pain and he's able to make the plays that #9 is able to make during the course of a football game on Saturday. He's feeling good about what he's able to do. Spencer Havner, knowing that Justin is sitting next to him and playing as well as he's been playing, it allows him to play well. Spencer being defensive player of the week this week shows you that the confidence of the defense, with the people being back in the lineup, are helping the process in terms of the improvement and the production."

What's the status of Dan Nelson? And we see Tim Warfield now on the depth chart?

"Tim Warfield is back at full health. He was back actually last week. He practice and we gave him a week to get himself back under his feet. He'll replace Dan now that he has the clavicle injury. He'll be the MIKE linebacker."

Is that incredible good luck or bad - that you lose one middle linebacker but get the other back from injury in the same week?

"It's bad luck. You don't like to lose any players. But we're fortunate to have a linebacker who has been hurt most of the season be back at full health right now. It's a trade-off in terms of the exchange on paper, but it's always unfortunate to lose someone at this point in the season."

Is there a chance to get anyone else back from the injured list, like Lombard?

"Kenny Lombard, no. We're going to petition for him to redshirt. So he'll be done for the rest of the year. Chris Joseph is done for the rest of the year. Kevin Harbour is still recovering from his surgery. The likelihood of him playing is not going to happen this year. But we keep moving forward."

How good is Jarrad  Page now in terms of a national perspective?

"He's making strides for that type of recognition. I will reserve the right to say he is one of the better safeties in the country, but he has played better week in and week out. The thing about him is that he was one of our honorary captains going into this game and he played like a leader and he's been doing that the last few weeks. We are pleased with what he is doing. He's excited about this defense. He's excited about what it has done this last week. All of our players are. They understand the position we are in in this conference, in terms of the opportunity that we have. They are excited about the task of moving on and playing Washington State and improving and seeing what happens as the weeks unfold."

Talk about Craig Bragg going for the record of most receptions in UCLA history this weekend...

"I don't think Craig will be going for the record this weekend. He's going to try to be productive in helping our offense be productive. If it fall, it falls. I know it's real close, and he knows he's real close. Those things are probably going to happen with three games left. So he's trying to just get himself back to the way he was playing at the beginning of the season. We're going to give him the opportunity to get back this week."

Is it true that you told Craig that he's a better receiver than you were?

"Sure. I have told him that. He has the numbers to prove it. He's an excellent receiver. When he left the lineup, we sorely missed him. It was hard filling those shoes. Granted, our young players stepped up and made some plays, and we had some success along the way. Not to put any slight on their situation, Craig is a heck of a player. There's a reason why he's been that productive in our program. It's nice to have him back."

What makes him so good?

"Very detailed, hard-working player on the practice field. He practices and plays at the same speed. I believe that's why games aren't any different for him. He's the same guy on the practice field as on Saturdays. Games are just like practices for him."

Is he a student of the game?

"Definitely. I wish I had one more year with him. Just because of the experience of having him around these young receivers that we're playing with, they can really benefit from a guy like him. He's had a great career here, and he'll have an opportunity to extend his career after this season. He's done some great things for UCLA football."

Was it significant that Joe Cowan actually started the game over Junior Taylor?

"There's nothing really significant about it. They both rotate in their every other play. They bring in our plays. We consider both of them starters at the X position. When it's all said and done, their numbers of plays are about the same. There really is nothing other than he got the opportunity to start and Junior didn't."

Do you think having Larr Kerr upstairs in the both had an impact?

"It helped. I'm sure it helped. We thought that the communication was great between the coaches up in the box and on the sidelines. We were able to make adjustments in the game. Larry felt comfortable. We thought that it was helpful in the communications part of it. We don't think that was the determining factor in why the defense played the way they did. It was just the right time for it to come together. These guys had worked so hard in trying to get things right, and the light switch went on. The guys were inspired to play, and played a great game."

When did you decide that Kerr would move up to the booth?

"The middle of last week. We decided to make the change. We talked about it last Sunday, thought about it for a few days and then decided, 'Let's try it.' It worked out pretty well, and we're going to do it again this week."

Who takes over the roll of talking to the defense on the field?

"Don Johnson, our defensive line coach, will talk to the front people. Brian Schneider, who is our outside linebacker and special teams coach, will talk with the linebackers and secondary. And I help whenever they need me."

With Brigham Harwell playaing well at defensive end, and Justin Hickman returning, is Hickman completely recovered from his injury, or is he still getting limited reps?

"He will get more reps this week from last week. He's still recovering from that injury. It's usually a four-week injury to recover from. He played early in that process of recovery, and we had no set backs. His role will be he and Brigham rotating in like they did this past week."

Why do you think you're the least-penalized team in the conference this year?

"We try to not do things that aren't legal in the game of football (laughs). We try to coach that. Seriously, though, a year ago, we were heavily penalized. You do your end of season synopsis of what happened with your offense and defense, and you go through the penalties, and what kind of penalties they were, and they were things we can control. A lot of holding calls a year ago. Those are things we just about have eliminated in our offense. There were a lot of pass interferences, or jumping offside. There were a lot of mental things that we could have improved on over the course of the off-season, and we put a lot of attention to it. And that's the difference why we're playing a lot cleaner this year."

It seems you've had the team's attention the last couple of weeks. How do you get their attention with Washington State, a team that's down and not having a good year?

"The maturity of this football team is good. I say that because we know that in this conference anybody can beat you. We know that we're not in any position to have a letdown. We're not in the clear in any way right now. We're in the middle of the pack. There are a lot of teams jockeying to do something in the end here, in the next few weeks. We understand what's going on in the conference. We understand we have to be focused, and build on what we did last week. We by no means think we're a finished product because we had a great game last week. We have a lot of improvement to do. We play some very good opponents here in this last stretch. There are a lot of opportunities for us to improve and to stay focused, and see how this ends up in December."

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