With some pads on, it got the players hitting, and it was easy to see that they're ready for full contact, which will begin Saturday with full pads.
Patrick Cowan, who had an exceptional two days Monday and Tuesday, had a poor showing at Wednesday's practice. He missed on many throws, throwing too late, and lacked the zip he had on the ball the two previous practices. He also fumbled a few snaps on the day.
Drew Olson was consistent – just about the same as he was in the first two days.
Ben Olson probably had the best performance Wednesday. Through the drills, he consistently threw good, accurate balls, and despite going 3-for 7-in the scrimmage drills, he made two of the best throws of the day. One was a perfect seam-splitter to walk-on receiver Adrew Baumgartner on a slant over the middle.
David Koral probably had the single best throw – on a corner route to freshman receiver Gavin Ketchum, with Ketchum making a stretching grab over freshman defensive back Robert Kibble. Koral, though, scrambled probably five times today, not being able to find a receiver.
There was a double dose of bad news in terms of injuries Wednesday.
An MRI taken Tuesday of the knee of senior linebacker Wesley Walker indicated that he'll need surgery, which will take place this Friday. He's expected to be out three to four weeks.
The injury was to the same knee he had surgically repaired last spring, but it is a different injury. We'll have a video interview of Walker talking about his injury coming up.
Walk-on freshman running back Ryen Carew, who had a promising spring, will need reconstructive surgery on the ligaments in his left knee. He'll be out for an indefinite period, more than likely 8 months or so, and he'll redshirt this season.
Sophomore running back Chris Markey didn't participate in practice, but did run on the side.
Sophomore linebacker Bruce Davis was in a red, no-hit jersey and also ran on the side of practice, looking pretty sturdy on the knee that was scoped a couple of weeks ago.
Chris Horton, the sidelined sophomore safety, also did some running, while his status is still uncertain.
Kyle Morgan is expected back to practice Friday. He'll have to go through the five-day acclimation process mandated by the NCAA, and won't be able to participate in full contact drills until early next week.
Receiver Ryan Graves appeared to tweak a leg or an ankle at today's practice, and was noticeably limping.
The defense had another good day, as they were able to hit for the first time. Or "thud," actually.
Rodney Van, the sophomore, looks like he took a step ahead of the competition today at cornerback, having an interception and a few very strong break-ups.
Also having a good day at corner was Michael Norris, who jumped routes well.
Not having a good day was Trey Brown, who looked slow-to-react and was getting heat from cornerback coach Gary DeLoach most of practice.
The linebackers had some moments today, with Spencer Havner putting a loud thud on running back Maurice Drew, and his fellow starting ‘backer Justin London making a couple of nice plays, including recovering a fumble and returning it for an imaginary touchdown.
The defensive line went up against the o-line in one-on-one drills for the first time in recent memory near the Spaulding Field grandstands, so it was an unusual treat for the BRO grandstand faithful.
On the d-line, Kevin Brown showed the same flash he did toward the end of last season, being too quick and strong to be contained. Back-up tackle Chris Johnson also made a few good moves on his blocker. Defensive ends Justin Hickman and William Snead were impressive, with Snead showing such improved strength in his upper body. Hickman was in the backfield in the scrimmages often, and had a couple of virtual sacks.
Freshman d-tackle Chase Moline looks small, of course, which he's certainly heard his entire life. But when he went up against redshirt freshman OL Chris Joseph, who the coaches like, Moline was too quick for Joseph to contain. He also was credited for a virtual sack in the 11-on-11s, getting to the quarterback quickly with a nice burst.
On the o-line, particularly effective was Ed Blanton, who was sometimes blocking his man down the field.
Brian Abraham, physically, is huge – not only tall, but very wide and rocked out.
Redshirt freshman Tony Lee looks like he's cementing a back-up tackle position, being particularly effective in both the one-on-ones and the scrimmages.
Tight end Marcedes Lewis, again, dominated practice, with the ball being thrown at him just about ever third passing play. In the redzone offensive scrimmage series, Lewis caught a corner touchdown from Drew Olson.
Two receivers stood out on the day – sophomore Matt Slater and true freshman Gavin Ketchum. Slater had a few nice catches, one where he wrestled the ball away from a cornerback and another where he accelerated up the sideline very well. Ketchum, as we stated, caught the pass of the day on a corner route, but also had a few more nice catches. Ketchum obviously isn't afraid to go over the middle and has very good hands. In Karl Dorrell's comments after practice, he talked about Ketchum (we'll have the video of those comments later).
The running backs had a good day. Maurice Drew looked explosive as ever blasting and twisting through holes. Derrick Williams showed some good shiftiness and balance, along with a surprising burst. Kahlil Bell, the freshman who was slated to work as a fullback, took tailback snaps today, predominantly because of the loss of Markey and Carew. Bell looked fairly good, hitting the hole quickly and staying on his feet well.
Sophomore fullback Michael Pitre looked particularly tough Wednesday. Even though UCLA's offense only handed the ball to a fullback one time last year, Pitre took a few handoffs today, and was a load to bring down. On one play he ran off-tackle, bounced outside and cut up the sideline with would-be tacklers flying off him.
Aaron Perez, the redshirt freshman punter, had a good day Tuesday, but an average one Wednesday. Today he had four decent punts, in the 38-45 yard range, and then eight poor punts. It does look like he's improved, with his poorer punts not being shanks as often, but it appears he'll have to improve considerably if the UCLA coaches are going to hand him the punting duties on September 3rd.
There's a new addition to the practice regimen, with the younger players and walk-ons going 11-on-11 once the veterans are finished.
There is a pretty sizeable walk-on offensive lineman named David Dreisbach, who looks to be about 6-6 and 320 pounds. Dreisbach was a 2005 graduate from Covina (Calif.) South Hills.
Recruits in Attendance:
Alex Gamez, the 6-0, 230-pound defensive end/linebacker from Downey (Calif.) Warren, attended Wednesday.