Tuesday's Practice Report

Head Coach Karl Dorrell talks about the injuries, and getting in the right mindset heading into the hostile environment of Washhington State, and senior tight end Marcedes Lewis discusses how Cal defended him...

After Tuesday's practice, UCLA Head Coach Karl Dorrell discussed the difficulties of playing at Washington State, the health of safety Chris Norton and defensive tackle Brigham Harwell.

Notes from Tuesday's practice:

-- Defensive tackle Brigham Harwell had a limited practice and left during the middle for treatment and conditioning. He is expected to have a full practice by Thursday and should play Saturday at Washington State.

-- Saftey Chris Horton is expected to meet with doctors tomorrow to gauge the progress of his injured wrist. If the prognosis is good, Horton could be ready to play against Oregon State

-- Wideout Junior Taylor (out for the season) watched practice from the bleachers.

-- Approximately a dozen players, including tailback Maurice Drew, left practice several minutes early for a class that had been rescheduled due to Thursday's Jewish holiday.

Below is the transcript of Dorrell's post-practice interview:

Coach Karl Dorrell:

"Great practice. Great focus that's within our team right now. We understand this is our big road test. We're are ready for the challenge, ready to go up and play in an environment we know is going to be not in our favor and get a chance to get us to compete and do the things good teams do when you go into those types of road situations. We're excited about this challenge this week. We've been at home awhile and this will be a good chance for us."

What does this say about your team and how you've grown the last two wins in coming from behind to win the game?

"It's growth, it has shown some growth we haven't had in probably a couple of years. It started with Washington and as bad as a game we played for three quarters, we found enough fortitude within ourselves to pull out that game and then the week after against Cal, a very good football team, we found a way to make it happen, again against a very good football team. It is learning ways to win and sometimes you're not going to have your A game and you still have to find ways to win football games and that's what this team is learning how to do."

Is this the highest level of confidence you've had this year? I know you guys have had a couple good starts in the past few years and then faltered after that. But is that the highest level?

"This is the best start we've had here so we feel good about ourselves. We know we can get a lot better, we know we can play better football and continue to build and display the type of things we've been doing. So there's still a lot of room for improvement and a lot of things for us to get better at this point in the season and finish up strong."

UCLA hasn't won a game in Pullman since 1993, what makes it such a tough place to play?

"I don't know. It has been a tough place to play even when I played. It might be just the trip itself. It takes awhile to get there and everyone has to go through that experience. We're focused on the positives of this trip, the most important is that it is our first big road test. To go into an environment like this is fun and we're going to go into it with a great game plan and improve from what we've done in the past few weeks and put our mental fortitude to the test – that's what this is about, us keeping our focus and executing and doing the things we need to do to win the football game."

Logistically, this is the toughest trip of the conference?

"You can't fly into Pullman. So, yeah this is the toughest trip in the conference. But that's the way it goes. I've been in worse circumstances when I was in the old Big Eight and Big Twelve where there were a lot of small towns you play in, and its fun, it's a lot of fun to play in those places. This will be a fun experience as we prepare to go into this challenge."

Is (safety) Chris Horton possible for next week?

"He has one appointment this week which will give a tell-tale sign whether that's going to happen. Him physically? He's ready to go. He's in the best shape he's been, he's fresh and not sore and ready to go hit somebody. So it is just a matter of what the doctors say. Let's cross our fingers."

Is there any way for him to be ready for this Saturday?

"No. He would need, from what I understand, to get the wrist back functioning the way it is."

Is everything ok with (defensive tackle) Brigham Harwell?

"He did some good stuff today. We wanted to gradually build him into full speed this week, he could have done a lot more than he did today. We just had him do some individual drills and then sent him in to do some conditioning and treatment. Tomorrow he will do a lot more and then Thursday he will be in full."

Any other injuries?

"Umm no. (Offensive tackle) Tony Lee practiced today, he hobbled a bit but he's just starting to get back in shape. So no set backs from him. (Offensive tackle) Chris Joseph, that's an injury they are still waiting to see how bad it is because its very swollen and they are waiting for the swelling to go down to get a better diagnosis on it. We know for sure it's a meniscus tear, but it maybe a little more than it too, so we just have to wait for the swelling to go down."


Tightend Marcedes Lewis spoke with the media after Tuesday's practice about the difficulties of road games, how California defended him and what he expects for this weekend's upcoming game at Washington State:

Tightend Marcedes Lewis:

Why is Pullman such a tough place to play?

"It is just like any other game in the Pac-10, crowd noise is always going to be a factor. But we're going to go in there and pay great attention to detail. We'll block out everything that comes along with a road game and get the job done."

Is this the worst place to go, just because of the drive, the long walk to the stadium and because people are throwing things at you?

"It is just like any other road game really. As far as the crowd noise, everywhere on the road is a tough place to go. We're just going to take it all in and get the job done."

Why are you more prepared for this one for than you were two years ago?

"We know what to expect. Two years ago was my first time going in there. For a lot of the seniors we haven't beat Washington State yet so this is going to be a big game for us. We have to go in there focused, with a chip on our shoulders and get the job done. Last year we got embarrassed at the Rose Bowl…we're ready to play."

What did Cal do against you defensively?

"They played a coverage that we call Gold or Twenty Coverage. It is where the safety has me, if I go vertical 20 yards, the safety will have me. They will have the linebacker with me. It is some strange work man. I had to do a lot of dirty work last game, really just block and get the job done that way. But look for more opportunities for me this week."

Just because you will anticipate seeing the same coverage?

"No, they run a different coverage. They run a regular Vanilla 4-3 so I will be able to get the ball a little more. I'm going to be out wide a little more this week, so we'll see what happens."

Do you feel comfortable now after the last two games with the team's ability to come from behind to win the game?

"Yeah. We've been building character and heart in the summer and it's starting to pay off. Everyone is going out there with the attitude that we are going to play for each other, no matter what. And it shows, you know what I mean? That whole game (against Cal), nobody had their heads down. We had been in the same situation the week before, so we knew we had to get our heads together and get the job done. Offense was saying to the defense, ‘Get us the ball back. If you get us the ball back, we're going to score and we're going to win the game,' and we got the ball back and we won the game."

Do you see the offense being more dynamic late in the game and more productive as it gets later in the game?

"Yeah, because we just have to make plays. Our back is against the wall. We figure if we don't make plays, the game is on us. No matter what the defense or the offense did at the beginning, in the end if we have a chance to score and we don't then it is going to be on us. We just go in there and put everyone on our backs and get the job done."

You mentioned you thought you would see more opportunities for you this coming weekend, was that because you were used more as a decoy last weekend against Cal?

"Not really a decoy, we didn't go into the game saying ‘Marcedes, you're going to be used as a decoy'. But as the game went along and some of the things they were doing, I thought my opportunities to catch the ball were kind of slim. So I thought, ‘Hey, I'm going to run my route and get everyone else open'. As long as we win, I don't really care. I would rather win and get to a good bowl game than lose and have a great statistical game."

 


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