Report on Saturday's Practices

Two quarterbacks duel it out for supremacy; Marcedes Lewis again dominates; a young linebacker looks like he won't be reshirted and the depth chart looks to be sorting itself out...

This report will cover both the morning and afternoon practice sessions.

The morning session was in full pads while the afternoon was just in shells.

Recruiting Watch:

The "Recruiting Watch" comes first today, since it's pretty significant.

Allen Bradford, the elite linebacker prospect from Colton (Calif.) High, attended the morning practice with his father, along with elite cornerback prospect Devin Ross from Rancho Cucamonga (Calif.) High, and his father. The word is that the UCLA coaches and the two families had a good, long talk after practice and that everything looks good for both of the recruits. Reportedly, Ross is working hard to improve his academics, and if UCLA receives a transcript that makes him viable academically, Ross will get an offer.

Bradford is the #1 linebacker recruit in the nation, and Ross is the #2 cornerback prospect in the nation. A source indicated that the two are close and would like to play together in college.

Also attending the morning session was Jeff Miller, the defensive end from Westlake Village (Calif.) Westlake. Miller, according to sources, is a big target for UCLA. He hung out for the entire practice with another big UCLA target, defensive tackle Jerzy Siekwierski from Sparks (Nev.) Reed.

Two committed players attended – Jake Dean, the OL from Lancaster (Calif.) Paraclete, who also attended Friday's practice; and Darius Savage, the mammoth lineman from San Diego (Calif.) Morse.

A prospect to note that attended was Ben Locke, a 6-6, 250-pound offensive tackle prospect from Santa Monica JC, originally from England. Locke was very well put-together in his upper body, and originally a rugby player.

Another prospect in attendance was Matt Carrillo, a 6-5, 245 pound OL/DL from Santa Fe Springs (Calif.) St. Paul.

Personnel Update:

Head Coach Karl Dorrell addressed many of the issues concerning the injured players in his after-practice comments from this morning.

In the afternoon, linebacker Bruce Davis sat out with ice on his repaired knee.

Brandon Breazell sat out practice.

Ryan Graves, the redshirt freshman receiver, returned to participate in practice after sitting out the last couple of days due to a hyper-extended knee.

William Snead's status hasn't changed, still sitting out with a ankle sprain.

Dan Nelson participated in practice, with a wrap on his knee. His return was quicker than anticipated.

Chris Markey was dressed and participated in a few drills.

Mike McCloskey sat out his second practice, with a strained shoulder, as did freshman receiver Gavin Ketchum.

Chris Horton was fully dressed and did a few drills.

We'll have more on the injured included in Dorrell's video after-practice comments coming later.

Quarterback Update:

The morning practice was probably the best practice so far of the young fall camp, mostly because it was a case of two quarterbacks dueling for supremacy, Drew Olson and Ben Olson.

Each Olson was one-upping the other in the drills and the scrimmages. Drew Olson would complete four or so in a row, and Ben Olson would answer by completing his series of four. Drew would make a nice throw, such as one with good accuracy to freshman tight end Logan Paulsen over the middle. Ben would respond with a pretty throw on a deep out to Junior Taylor, just over the reach of cornerback Marcus Cassel. Ben also completed another long out to Marcus Everett, also over Cassel, and threw a touchdown pass on a corner route to Marcedes Lewis, in which Lewis brought it in with one hand. Ben threw another TD to Lewis, one in which Lewis got behind the coverage along the sideline and Ben had to put some air under it and did so perfectly.

By the end of the morning, Ben Olson might have had a slight edge over Drew, completing slightly more passes and making more difficult throws.

In the afternoon session, the competition wasn't as pronounced, but both Olsons still showed that they're separating themselves from Pat Cowan and David Koral.

Drew Olson started out the seven-on-seven completing four straight passes, as did Ben Olson. Koral also completed three, and Cowan completed one before there was an incompletion. The quarterbacks, overall, look to be getting their timing and accuracy down more, both Olsons in particular.

Ben Olson hit Lewis again over the middle on a post, with Lewis catching the pass over safety Eric McNeal. Drew Olson also exploited Lewis, hitting him with a TD pass of his own.

It was definitely an Olson & Olson kind of day. Drew Olson was as good as he's been for the last two days, but Ben Olson had a break-out day. He still had some moments when it's clear he doesn't know what to do with the ball and holds it too long. But he went from a pretty poor day Friday to looking like a good college quarterback the next.

Performance Update:

Marcedes Lewis, of course, as you can surmise, also had a big day. For a long period, he caught everything thrown near him.

Running the ball, fullback Michael Pitre had a few nice runs, breaking into the open after busting a number of tackles. Freshman running back Kahlil Bell picked up about seven yards on a good run on a counter.

Jamil Turner, the freshman wide receiver, showed flashes today. While he's not explosive, he's pretty polished and has very good hands.

Ryan Graves, the redshirt freshman receiver, returning for his first practice in a couple of days, and looked quick running routes in the receiver drills.

Freshman tight end Adam Heater also had some moments today, catching a couple of passes and making a great block that had tight ends coach Jon Embree patting him on the helmet.

Freshman tight end Ryan Moya had a couple of good catches, one in which he had to come back to it and slide for it. It looks like the UCLA coaches are experimenting with using Moya in a variety of ways within the offense.

Receiver Joe Cowan is still struggling with his same issue – hanging onto the ball.

It really was also a day of the offense and defense taking its turns dominating. The offense, as stated, completed eight passes in a row. Then, in the afternoon session, in an 11-on-11 scrimmage, it almost seemed like it was a sack drill with the defense getting to the quarterback on seemingly every play.

There were quite a few new schemes and plays on offense, which we can't get into. Suffice it to say, the offense's diversity expanded considerably today.

On defense, Eric McNeal had some big moments, blocking a field goal in the field goal drill, and putting a bit hit to stop Bell on a run to the outside.

Jarrad Page is getting back in his football form, putting a big tackle on Maurice Drew while also coming close to a pick before dropping the ball.

Cassel, despite getting beat a couple of times, also provided tight coverage most of the day. He shut down a few receivers on a few reps and had an interception of a Koral pass when Junior Taylor slipped.

The linebackers had a good day. Spencer Havner stepped up and made himself noticed, with a couple of sacks and a nice tackle in the open field on Maurice Drew.

Dennis Keyes looked good, intercepting a Koral pass over the middle after tipping it to himself.

Aaron Whittington, running with the first string at the outside linebacker position, had a sack when he jetted into the backfield on one play, and had a nice tackle behind the line of scrimmage on Derrick Williams.

Freshman John Hale is really earning respect, playing the outside linebacker position with the second string. He had a sack today, and a big hit on Brandon Breazell on a crossing pattern, breaking up the play.

On the DL, Kevin Brown was the standout, seemingly in the offense's backfield on just about every play, getting at least one sack and then successive tackles for loss.

Depth Chart Update:

It looks like the depth chart might be beginning to sort itself out at many positions. We already supplied the tentative two-deep on the offensive line.

At receiver, there aren't many surprises, with Taylor being the most consistent. Marcus Everett's consistency could allow him to compete with Cowan for playing time. Brandon Breazell is going to play, and it looks like the coaches are now favoring Matt Slater for the fifth receiver spot.

At tight end, after Marcedes Lewis, J.J. Hair looks to get the hand-down assignments, and the freshmen are fighting for probably one available spot to play.

Derrick Williams has probably helped his cause as the #2 at tailback with Chris Markey out.

On the defensive line, Chris Johnson and Kenneth Lombard will be the back-ups. At end, the four top guys will be Justin Hickman, William Snead, Kyle Morgan and Nikola Dragovic. Dragovic has been working with the 1s, with Snead and Morgan out. Skaggs will be on the other side, backing up Hickman.

At linebacker, Havner and London will, of course, start, even though London has been working mostly with the 2s, getting limited reps to bring him back carefully. At the OLB position, Aaron Whittington has been starting, but that could change when Bruce Davis returns completely next week. It looks like Hale is winning the third spot at that outside linebacker position and, as Dorrell said, probably won't redshirt.

Fred Holmes looks to be getting the reps as #2 MLB. Christian Taylor has probably got a hold on the #2 spot, for now, behind Havner at the weak inside position. That will probably stay that way for some time, with Wesley Walker not expected to be back for at least a month. Dan Nelson practiced today and he'll compete with Holmes to back up the MLB spot.

The four cornerbacks are still rotating with the 1s and 2s – Rodney Van, Michael Norris, Marcus Cassel and Trey Brown. It appears that Van and Norris might be leading for the starting spots. Byron Velega makes for the fifth corner.

At safety, with Chris Horton still out, Dennis Keyes is the starter at the free spot, alongside Jarrad Page at strong. McNeal is #2 at the strong, with Robert Kibble and Bret Lockett rotating in with the 2s at the free safety spot.

Tomorrow morning's practice will be in pads, starting at 9:30.


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