Quarterback Ben Olson started class last Thursday, and one of those classes has been, figuratively, Football 101. Here is his first interview ever as a Bruin.
How has your first three or four days at UCLA been?
"Yeah, it's been about three or four days. I'm getting the hang of things, learning where all the buildings are for my classes. It's all working out."
Do you know where all your receivers will be?
"Yeah, I got each of their schedules, too."
Has it been a pretty intense agenda of film-watching and playbook-studying?
"Yeah, it is. Right now it's a bit overwhelming. Piece by piece I think the coaches are doing a good job of giving me the information and to ultimately fit the entire puzzle together. We're just starting out with basics right now, and going from there."
Have you been throwing?
"No, because of the rain. But I'm going to go out and throw today. We're going to get at that pretty soon here today."
How have things changed with Drew Olson's injury?
"I don't really think anything's changed. I'm going to prepare myself just as I would have, if Drew were going to be here in the spring. It's unfortunate what happened to Drew, and I feel badly for him. I hope he can back as soon as possible."
Have you talked to him?
"I haven't. I think he's coming back this week."
You say things haven't changed, but in winter practice aren't you guessing things will change reps-wise?
"I don't know. I'm not the one you need to talk to about reps. That's up to the coaches. I'm just going to prepare myself and do everything I can to have somewhat of an idea of what I'm doing out there. It has probably motivated me to work that much harder."
After winter practice, do you think you'll know what you're doing out there?
"Yeah, I think I'll get a good foundation, more than anything. That's what I'm going to try to do. I'm going to go out there and try to do my best. Who knows what will happen. It's been a while since I've been out of the game. I'm just going to work on getting my timing back and being out in a football atmosphere."
How much of the offense do you have down, do you think?
"I have about 85% right now."
Really. You think that much?
Is it realy possible to learn this offense before fall camp?
"Yes. I'll get it down."
Many say it takes a year to learn it...
"Naa. What I'm trying to do right now is basically understand what we're doing and why we're doing it. It's a lot of concepts. It's a lot of memorizing where people are on certain plays. I know it's important I do learn it, that's why I will. I'm not going to say that I'm going to have the West Coast Offense down by fall camp, but I think I'll have a good understanding of what we're going to be trying to as a team. And I have a very strong motivation to do that. That's why I think I'll be able to do it. Spring ball is going to be fun. It's going to be interesting. I'm looking forward to it."
You had said before having practice in February was a bit of a disadvantage. Do you still feel that way?
"I think as far as my understanding of the offense, that will probably be a disadvantage. The month and a half or two months extra would have been very beneficial. But there's nothing like going out there and getting the actual reps. So in a sense that's an advantage, being able to go out and do it early. You can look at any situation positively or negatively. It's whatever you choose to make out of it."
Have you talked to Marcedes Lewis at all the last couple of days about his decision?
"Yeah, I talked with Marcedes. Hey, I tell all the guys who were making decisions to stay around. I think the whole team would love these guys to stay. Anything that will help us become a better team we're all for."
In this offense, how important is the tight end?
How good can Marcedes be in it?
"Very good. I've played with him (in the CaliFlorida high school all star game in 2002). I think Marcedes is a huge talent. He can help us win ball games. He's that type of of a player. He's a difference-maker. Just his presence out on the field alone makes defenses account for him on every play. He's a weapon. I'm glad he's staying."
At the CaliFlorida, did you feel a good connection with him on the field?
"I did. We connected on three or four balls I think. And it was funny because there was that kind of connection there. I'm excited about the possibilities now."
Have you met with your receivers?
"Yeah, some of them. We're going to get together here and organize when we're going to be throwing."
Do you think you need to step up in a leadership role, like in organizing off-season workouts?
"I don't think that's really my call right now. I just got here. I'm just trying to learn. I'm going to work hard and see what happens. I'm excited to be here and am excited for the opportunity that I have to be at such a great place."
Have you spent some time with (strength and conditioning coach) Doc Kreis?
"I have. I go one-on-one with Doc every day. I'm pretty sore. Having this little break of having to talk to you I'm not complaining too much."
How much do you weigh?
"I'm about 234 right now."
What do you want to be?
"Who knows. My body will let me know. Doc would say the same thing. I could be 250 or I could be 225."
Do you think people are going to expect too much out of you?
"No. I expect a lot out of myself. I know the expectations are high. That's awesome. I'm going to play the game to my standards and nobody elses. I think I've learned a lot of that in high school, in my senior year in high school. Coming out that year I put a lot of presure on myself in the first few games. But it's a game. You have to have fun with it. When you stop having fun that's when it's not good."
Who are you rooming with?
"Just a regular student right now."
Have you determined what jersey number you'll wear?
"Not yet. I don't know for sure. Anywhere from 1 to 10."
So, are you going into this intent to be the starter?
"I'm going to try. I think everybody goes out there to get the starting job. I'm going to do everything I can to set myself up for that position."
How old are you now?
When do you turn 22?
How much time have you spent looking at tape?
"I spend about two to three hours a day. Not to mention what I do on my own time. I probably spend four or five hours a day doing it."
Do you do any school work?
"Oh, yeah. I do a lot of school work. I go to class. But I have a very important class right now, and I think we all know what that is."
When did you get the play book?
"A couple of days after I committed here. After I signed something that made it legal. I've been reading it ever since."