Saturday Football Practice and Scrimmage Notes

UCLA practiced Saturday, and conducted a 20-minute, full-contact scrimmage. Overall, the team is showing good energy and focus, the defense has some big moments, and <b>David Koral</b> continues to be the most effective quarterback...

The (relatively) full contact scrimmage went for about 20 minutes today and was a pretty conservative affair.

The offense either ran the ball or threw fairly short, never really airing it out.

There was some rough first strings, but many players and units were shuffled in at different times.

David Koral mostly worked with the first string, and he had a good day. You tend to think, physically, he just isn't up to the task – being slight, and probably about 6-2, but he's getting more consistent in making his throws. He's getting more confident and by far more consistent in his execution.

Ben Olson, on the other hand, is the antithesis. He epitomizes physically what a quarterback should be, and he shows his very strong arm. It was obvious today, though, that he still is learning what he's doing and is, as he says, a bit overwhelmed. He threw late or inaccurately sometimes, but made a few very nice throws also.

Patrick Cowan looks to be every bit as tall as Olson, if not slightly taller. He's not as wide, though, being more angular. Cowan perhaps was right behind Koral for the day, and you could possibly make a case that he was just as good. Cowan has a strong arm, and sees the field really well. He threw some very accurate, strong balls. He connected with his brother on a couple of nice plays on the day.

In the various scrimmages, the running backs looked good. Maurice Drew exploded through a few holes, as did Chris Markey. New walk-on back Ryen Carew had a few moments when he showed some nice explosion.

The wide receivers overall seem the least polished of the offense, especially after Junior Taylor and Joe Cowan, and understandably since they're all pretty young. Marcus Everett, Brandon Breazell, Matt Slater, Alex Ghebresellasie and Ryan Graves all occasionally show flashes, but all seem like they have a long ways to go. Breazell still looks like a baby colt on the field, all flying elbows and knees. Ghebresellassie broke free on the outside for about a 20-yard gain on a pass from Cowan. Graves caught a nice dart from Olson, only to drop it.

Marcedes Lewis was in a red no-hit jersey for the day, after suffering a deep cut to the gum of his mouth yesterday in practice which demanded stiches. He practiced and went through the scrimmages, but it's believed he won't be cleared for contact the rest of winter practice.

In the 20-minute contact scrimmage, the defense more or less got the best of the defense. In the various scrimmages of the day leading up to the contact scrimmage, the offense was opening some nice holes against the D. But the defense then stepped up and shut down the offense generally. Defensive linemen were in the offensive backfield quickly and often. Justin Hickman, working as a starting defensive end, had a number of sacks and stops for loss, and recovered a fumble. William Snead, who does look a bit bigger (we were told he's up to about 240), had a couple of sacks. Slim linebacker Aaron Whittington looks far more clued in, and made a few nice plays, particularly in pursuing running backs, and recovered a fumble. Safety Dennis Keyes had an interception on a quick-hitter from Koral, and a stand-up hit on a receiver.

The defensive backs generally looked good. Marcus Cassel had two nice break-ups in succession, where he jumped routes on both plays. Trey Brown had a nice break-up where he was aggressive and physical. Mil'Von James picked off a Ben Olson pass.

Personnel Notes:

Besides those we know are out for winter practice, here are the other players that didn't participate for various ailments: Keith Carter, Matt Raney, Fred Holmes, Wesley Walker, and Marc Villafuerte.

After Maurice Drew as the first string punt returner, it appears that Ryan Graves, Marcus Everett and Brandon Breazell are all getting looks.

Walk-on defensive tackle Phillip Rauscher is getting a look as a longsnapper.

Noah Sutherland is playing offensive tackle, not offensive guard. Apparently offensive line coach Tom Cable likes him as an offensive lineman. Sutherland, of course, has spent two years bouncing from defensive tackle to defensive guard before making the move this spring to offense.

The second string offensive line, at this point, appears to be Tony Lee and Sutherland at tackle, and P.J. Irvin and Micah Reed at guard, with Aaron Meyer at center.

Remember, though, this is how it is while missing Chris Joseph and Robert Chai. Joseph, who will be a redshirt freshman next fall, looks like he's gotten bigger, at least 6-4 if not 6-5 and filling out.

There was a decent turnover of recruits.

Committed seniors in attendance including Aaron Ware, Gavin Ketchum, Aleksey Lanis, Logan Paulsen, and Chinonso Anyanwu.

Some juniors who attended included:

Highly-regard linebacker Allen Bradford from Colton (Calif.) High, who might be among the best few linebackers in the west for 2006.

Toby Umodu, the defensive end/linebacker from West Covina (Calif.) South Hills. He told us yesterday he could verbally commit today, and we saw him taking with Dorrell, but there was no word of a commitment. Umodu, also, looks to be about 6-0ish and probably 230.

Menelik Holt, the wide receiver/athlete from San Diego (Calif.) St. Augustine. Holt is all of 6-4 and we heard that he's related somehow to Bruin wide receiver Alex Ghebresellassie.

OL/DL Sean Sheller, 6-5, 260, Walnut (Calif.) High. He's a good-sized kid with a very good frame.

Vincent Federico, a 6-3, 270-pound defensive lineman from La Puente (Calif.) Bishop Amat.

A mammoth kid named David Contreras, who was about 6-8 and 330 pounds, and not sloppy. He apparently didn't play much his junior year due to injury and it's uncertain just how good he is. But he was certainly huge.

One of the elite sophomore quarterbacks in the nation, Jimmy Clausen, from Westlake Village (Calif.) Oaks Christian.

One very interesting young man was Tim Lemon, a 6-1, 190-pound wide receiver originally from La Mirada High School. He committed to Washington State out of high school -- in 1999. He never went to Pullman, though, and has been playing minor league baseball since. Now 24 years old, he's still eligible to play college football. It's unknown if UCLA has any real interest, but it was intriguing to see Lemon there.

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