Friday Morning Practice Report

The offense gets into its audibles, and the receivers get the dropsies; One Olson has a good day at quarterback; safety Jarrad Page makes some big plays and a key starter returns to practice...

Personnel Update:

Offensive lineman Shannon Tevaga left practice early, for no discernable reason. If you remember, he didn't participate in the first half of Wednesday's second practice due to dizziness, but it's unknown why he left Friday's practice early.

Center Mike McCloskey participated in individual and team drills for the first time since injuring his shoulder, working with the 1s for most of the day.

Receiver Matt Slater is still in a leg boot. UCLA is saying it's a strained lower right leg. X-rays performed yesterday were negative, and an MRI was done this morning, but there were no results as of mid-day Friday.

Receiver Gavin Ketchum donned a red, no-hit jersey and participated in drills for the first time since he injured his shoulder. He did just individual drills and not team drills.

Freshman running back Kahlil Bell sat out the morning practice with concussive symptoms.

Hear Head Coach Karl Dorrell talk about players' status and more on the video of his comments after Friday morning's practice.

Practice Performance:

The wide receivers had a collective poor day, and were kept after practice to do more work. They not only dropped balls, but badly tipped passes many times into the hands of defenders for interceptions. During one stretch of practice you almost thought you were watching a tip drill.

Freshman receiver Gavin Ketchum did his first practice work since injuring his shoulder, and even though he only participated in the individual drills, he looked very good catching the ball. It's clear just how talented Ketchum is, with very good quickness for his size and very good hands.

Three interceptions on tipped passes come to mind from the morning practice: Christian Taylor picking off one tipped by Ryan Moya; Rodney Van collecting one off Drew Olson after pressure from Nikola Dragovic; Justin London being in the right place at the right time and catching a tip.

Andrew Baumgartner, the sure-handed walk-on receiver, even dropped a pass. Tight end J.J. Hair dropped an easy pass when he was wide open. Ryan Graves dropped a fairly easy pass also.

Freshman tight end Logan Paulsen dropped a throw over the middle, but it wasn't thrown really well and freshman middle linebacker Reggie Carter was there to put an immediate hit on him.

Despite his position mates, Joe Cowan generally had a good day receiving. He caught a pass on a quick out and beat a gambling cornerback Byron Velega to the ball, which gave him room to advance the ball 30 yards up the sideline.

Baumgartner did have a nice catch on one out route, dragging his foot to stay in bounds.

Brandon Breazell also looked to be getting back into form, catching a few balls.

Of course, Marcedes Lewis still had a good day. He caught a 25-yarder from Drew Olson over the middle, and a touchdown on a pass thrown behind him over the middle by Ben Olson.

As Dorrell said, the offense did work on its audibles and checks, creating many short throws, which probably contributed to the tipped passes as well. With so many quick, short throws, safety Jarrad Page seemed to always be around the ball. He popped a catch loose from Ryan Moya and shed his blocker quickly to catch up with fullback Michael Pitre on a quick dump-off.

Freshman safety Robert Kibble continues to impress; on one running play he looked very good in pursuit of fullback Jimmy Stephens.

Cornerback Marcus Cassel might have had the best day among the corners, jumping routes and being physical and disruptive.

The four leading cornerbacks, Cassel, Van, Michael Norris and Trey Brown, continue to rotate with the 1s and 2s.

The defense had a fun day blitzing and playing aggressively. Walk-on linebacker Christian Taylor, besides having the interception, had a couple of nice knock-downs. Freshman defensive tackle Chase Moline blew up a screen, slicing through blockers to disrupt it. Nikola Dragovic had a couple of sacks and seemed to be in the backfield quite a bit.

Justin Hickman took limited reps at the right defensive end position, and Kyle Morgan, who usually plays left defensive tackle, got most of the reps with the ones in his absense.

Working as the starting kick-off returners have been Maurice Drew and Chris Markey, and the back-ups are Junior Taylor and walk-on receiver Matt Willis.

It might stand to reason that if Willis is working as a second-string kick-off returner he probably will make the top seven or eight receivers that will travel with the team.

Quarterback Watch:

Ben Olson didn't have a stellar day. His first play from scrimmage was a bad throw on a bad decision on a roll out that was intercepted by Dennis Keyes. He still seems to sometimes be just a second late in making his decision to throw, which is just enough to give the defensive back a jump on the ball.

Drew Olson had generally a good day, throwing a sharp, accurate ball for most of practice.

When Drew Olson huddles up with the first string, Ben Olson also is in on the huddle, which is a pretty good indication of who the top two quarterbacks are at this point.

Patrick Cowan also had a good day, his arm looking entirely different than it did a few days ago, now with the power we were used to seeing from him. In a practice that emphasized audibles, Cowan probably made the play change of the day when he audibilized out of the called play to find Marcus Everett wide open on a quick hitter, throwing over the blitzing cornerback, with Everett then scampering up the sideline for 25 yards.

There won't be a formal report from Friday's afternoon practice this evening. The session is supposed to be a light one, mostly a run-through and clean-up in shells before tomorrow morning's scrimmage. If anything significant does happen at the afternoon practice we still will, however, be the first to inform you, as always, on the BRO Premium Football Message Board.


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