Report on Tuesday's Practice

Head Coach Karl Dorrell comments after practice about sharpening up for the Cal game, and defensive end Justin Hickman talks about making up for the loss of Nikola Dragovic and improved tackling...

The Bruins kept to a basic practice Tuesday, working on position fundamentals along with seven-on-seven drills and the usual schematic work.  

Comments from Head Coach Karl Dorrell:

"We had a good practice with a lot of detailed work we were trying to emphasize on the heels of the game of last week, with more attention to getting some things done fundamentally. We look sharper in a lot of things we've been doing so that's a good start to the week for our preparation."

 How do you get that running game back on track?

"Execution is the biggest key, we can't miss as many blocks, as many reads. Both the running backs and the people involved in the blocking schemes need to be on the same page."

You guys are winning despite the run. you're going to the air a lot. is that a plus or minus?

"Any time you win I'll take it as a plus. I'll take any win, any way I can get it, as long as you win the football game. Ideally we would like to be more balanced, to run the ball more effectively and throw it and not have to rely on one thing or the other. We still have work to do, we know this is a work in progress and we're still improving and we'll continue to work and do the things necessary to be successful."

For the first time this season your offense needed to score late in the fourth quarter in order to win the game. How pleased with them were you that they answered that call?

"Very pleased . We hadn't done that in two years, where we came from behind in the fourth quarter and win a football game. I was very pleased with how we responded. We didn't play particularly well the first three quarters and Washington played very well, so it was good for us to have a gut check so-to-speak and find a way to win the game with some effort brought in the fourth quarter. So I am very pleased with how we finished the game.

Do you attribute that to the maturity of (quarterbacK) Drew Olson?

"He's part of it. He's directing the offense, making the right checks and the right plays in the opportune times for us to makes some plays. His helicopter run, everything he did to inspire the team, I think any of those types of efforts when the quarterback makes that type of efforts and those plays, everyone knows and they build from that type of momentum."

Has there been more of an effort to get (fullback) Michael Pitre involved in the passing game?

There's been the same effort to get him the ball. He doesn't get that many carries and so the opportunities that we want to give him is if you don't carry the ball we want to make sure to give you some opportunities to catch it up and some short passes and screens and things like that. So he has been very productive in those things for us.

What's your comfort level in Aaron Perez punting right now?

"My comfort level, well, its extremely comfortable. I would like to see him have a higher average, or I would like for him to be at 42-yards not about 38-yards, but we're not right there yet. He's a young player that's working his way through this experience and he's getting better and better. He had a shank in last week's game, which is the first one in the last four games, but he's a guy that experience takes care of a lot of things and the more he plays and punts in game-like situations, the better he'll be."

What does this game mean for the direction of this team and its progress?

"It's a chance for us to get one more win. That's what it means. There are seven games left and this one is just as important. It starts with this one. This is very important for the conference race, to be a factor in the conference race for both teams, and it starts in this week. So we need to make sure that we do our best in preparation and in mindset too, to be successful on Saturday."

 How much does this game mean to you as a coach?

"It is one step closer. I don't like to have the hiccups we had, so if our team had a little bit of the hiccups like we did last week, I guess I did too if we're progressing at the same rate. But I'm very pleased with how we are improving and am pleased with the direction of this program, pleased with how close we are as a team. But we need to be hungry in our efforts to be better than we are currently doing and that's what we're striving for at practice, to get ourselves to be one of the top caliber programs at this program." 

Comments from defensive end Justin Hickman:

How are is the defensive line going to compensate for the wholes left by recent injuries, especially (left defensive end) Nikola Dragovic?

"Obviously it's a hurt for any D-line when you lose one of your starters. We are just going to have to step up our game and replace him with William Snead and get the job done on Saturday like we have been doing with him, only this time we will be without him."

 This weekend you will be playing against one of the better passing teams in the conference. What do you do to stop that, especially in light of the injuries?

"I think we keep doing what we've been doing, especially keeping a high tempo in practice. But as was obvious, we need to work on our tackling. That's what we did today, we were working more on tackling and tackling guys to the ground which we normally don't do. We're just working on tackling and we just have to get that done since we're normally pretty good on filling our gaps, we just have to tackle when we get there."

Is that what you saw after you watched last weekend's game tapes?

"Yeah, definitely. Tackling was the biggest thing."

The game was pretty rough for this team, even though you did pull out the win. What were your thoughts on the win over Washington?

"The Pac-10 is a tough conference and as usual a team can beat any other team any day of the week. We didn't have it that day, we came out flat, we were lucky to come out with the W. But that's all that matter's really, that we did come out with a win. So we just have to go out this weekend and prepare like we need to be prepared and go out there and make plays.

Obviously this is a big game. It's the No. 10 team in the country. This is a make-or-break game maybe. Probably the biggest game we've had in a long time, since I've been here."


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