Friday's Practice Notes

One quarterback steps up and separates himself a bit Friday; a player decides to transfer; probably the most promising freshman gets injured, and an elite high school junior prospect attends practice...

Personnel Update:

Alex Ghebreselassie, the sophomore wide receiver, has left the program with the intention to transfer. That opens up 21 total scholarships to give to the 2006 high school class.

Linebacker Bruce Davis was still in a red jersey, but participated in some of the drills and scrimmages.

Will Peddie, the walk-on tight end, was moved to defensive end at his request.

Linebacker Dan Nelson had his injured knee wrapped and looks to be out for more than just a short period of time.

Chris Horton, the sophomore safety, ran more in full pads today.

Chris Markey, the sophomore running back, also ran in full pads.

Ryan Graves didn't suit out, but looked like he was okay from his hyper-extended knee suffered yesterday.

Kyle Morgan returned to the team, and is going through the NCAA mandated 5-day acclimation process.

Senior center Mike McCloskey tweaked his shoulder, but the status of the injury is unknown.

Freshman receiver Gavin Ketchum also injured his shoulder and left practice.

You can get Karl Dorrell's comments about the injuries on the video of his after-practice interview coming later tonight on the site.

Quarterback Watch:

Drew Olson had the best day of any quarterbacks so far in fall camp, separating himself a bit from the pack today.

The coaches staged an impromptu scrimmage, in full pads, and Olson, looking experienced and poised, easily stood out among the quarterbacks. In the seven-on-seven, with the other quarterbacks faltering, Olson smoothly went 7-for-8, hitting Marcedes Lewis with a couple of accurate throws, while also nailing Ketchum for a throw across the middle. In what looked like a full-speed 11-on-11, he drove the first-string offense 30 yards to a score in the first series, completing a nice swing pass to fullback Michael Pitre, who advanced it well for 20 yards or so. After a couple of running plays, Olson then hit J.J. Hair on a quick out for a touchdown. Later in the scrimmage, Olson laid the ball perfectly into the hands of walk-on receiver Andrew Baumgartner on a sideline streak that was good for about 30 yards.

Comparatively, the other three contending quarterbacks looked shaky, indecisive and inaccurate. Ben Olson struggled today, not recognizing his receivers quick enough and picking up a number of sacks. Patrick Cowan was too inaccurate in his throws, and looks like he doesn't have the same zip on the ball he did in the first couple of days (perhaps his arm is sore?). David Koral made a couple of plays, mostly improvising and dumping off to a receiver, but didn't stand out particularly.

It was clearly Olson's day. In a situation like a live scrimmage, his experience served him well, looking far more advanced in the offense than the other quarterbacks.

Performance Notes:

Ketchum was having a very good day before he left practice with the injured shoulder. On one post in the one-on-one drills, he thoroughly burned Marcus Cassel. He also held on to another tough throw over the middle in traffic. Ketchum definitely was playing well enough to compete for playing time, but it looks like it's now dependent on the extent of his injury.

Maurice Drew took a handoff through the middle of the line, bounced off a couple of tacklers and squirted into the open for a 20-yard touchdown. He looked good on a number of runs. Lewis caught a ball over the middle, was smacked by Jarrad Page, but stayed on his feet miraculously.

Pitre was tough to bring down, especially when catching the ball with some open field in front of him.

Derrick Williams, the second-string running back, also looked very good, bouncing a run to the outside and turning up the field with a nice burst while busting tackles.

Junior Taylor is consistent and productive, catching many balls on the day and doing it efficiently.

On defense, the secondary again had a good day. Rodney Van is really establishing himself as one of the best cornerbacks, with his quickness and instincts. Michael Norris also had another good day, playing very tight coverage. On one play, with Drew getting to the outside on a run from scrimmage, Norris made a nice open-field tackle. Marcus Cassel also had a couple of nice break-ups.

Jarrad Page looked at home on safety blitzes, and got a sack and a pressure. Eric McNeal is always good for a couple of nice hits in every practice, and he tatooed Pitre on one fullback screen.

The defensive line had a couple of standout plays in the scrimmages. Kevin Brown was constantly pressuring the quarterback. Brigham Harwell got a sack, as did Kenneth Lombard. Freshman linebacker John Hale had two sacks on two blitzes working with the second-team defense against the second-team offense.

The offensive line squared off against the defensive line in a pass rush drill early in practice. Among the OL, Ed Blanton stood out, with the defensive ends struggling to get around him. Brian Abraham did well against William Snead, but was beat a few times by Justin Hickman. Kevin Brown was tough for the interior OL to contain. Nikola Dragovic had the best performance of getting around end on the O-tackles.

In the scrimmage, it did seem like the offense was able to run fairly effectively on the defensive front seven, and it made you remember last season and worry a bit.

The second string offensive line looks to be Tony Lee at weakside tackle; Aleksey Lanis at weakside guard; Chris Joseph at center; Scott Glicksberg at strongside guard and Noah Sutherland at strongside tackle.

Recruiting Watch:

Committed offensive line prospect Jake Dean, from Lancaster (Calif.) Paraclete, attended practice along with his parents. Dean's high school teammate, junior lineman Cory Yriarte, was also with them.

Committed linebacker Tobi Umodu, from Covina (Calif.) South Hills, attended practice.

Also at practice was elite junior running back Marc Tyler from Westlake Village (Calif.) Oaks Christian, the son of former UCLA great Wendell Tyler.

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