Rainy Monday Practice

UCLA practiced Monday in a pretty strong rain storm, and Head Coach Karl Dorrell said he was pleased with the work. The quarterbacks looked good -- at least early -- and one starter goes out with an injury...

UCLA's emphasis this winter practice has been on toughness, and the UCLA coaches had a great opportunity Monday to try to instill it in their players with a heavy rain coming down on Spaulding Field during most of the practice.

The session was cut short by about 20 minutes, the coaches cutting out some of the individual work and getting straight to the team, competitive work.

A standout for the day was strong safety Chris Horton, who had a couple of big hits and an interception.

The quarterbacks looked suprisingly good early on, but then with the ball getting wetter as practice wore on, Ben Olson's passes were floating and getting picked off.

Running back Derrick Williams had another good day, looking quick and hard to bring down on the wet field.

Rodney Van again looked good, getting an interception and looking bigger and more physical.

Olson did hook up with Brandon Breazell on a deep out that Breazell turned up the field and ran for a touchdown.

Justin Medlock, UCLA's suspended kicker, was at practice for the second straight time.

Comments from Head Coach Karl Dorrell:

"There were some times there when we thought the rain was going to stop. You'd see some light (through the clouds). A little bit, then it'd get heavy again.

"But mission accomplished, though. We wanted to get some competitive work done and we ended up doing a lot of that. We couldn't do a lot of the individual stuff early, but given the field conditions we were able to get a lot accomplished today. No major injuries. We threw the ball fairly well in the slop. Our defense is starting to make some strides in terms of understanding that side of the ball, and what we want to get accomplished there. You still see a lot of great effort. The defense is running everywhere. And that's fun to see. Getting those guys to understand the passion they need to play with on that side of the ball, which is a great effort, with both an attitude and how you physically attack the football. We're really starting to learn that. We're moving right along. Hopefully the weather lightens up tomorrow. They say it's supposed to. It's supposed to rain throughout the night and then lighten up tomorrow. It can't be any worse than it was today. So we're going to try to go one more time. The field held up in decent shape. Not too bad. We'll see how it goes tomorrow."

How good has Ben Olson been this spring?

"For me, he's reminding me of how he was before he broke his hand, when he was being competitive with Drew Olson. He has a great sense of what we're trying to get accomplished offensively. I think a lot of the reason he looks as good as he does is because after the bowl game he came back and had the mindset of showing great leadership in running this offense. And that's why he's really taken off, trying to impress upon his teammates that he's the right guy to take them to the next level. He's done that pretty well."

How is his decision making?

"Good. I think he's ahead of the game of where he was a year ago, when he was playing at the time. I think he's sharper from that standpoint. He didn't quite look as much today, just because the ball was slippery and slipping out of his hand. I think he's grown a lot since the fall."

And how is he doing mechanically?

"Mechanically, he looks sharper, looks quicker. He's making decisions a lot faster with his feet. He's staying in rhythm. All of those things are looking pretty good right now."

How are some of the nicked-up guys? Like Justin Hickman...

"Justin has a fracture, we found out today after we did his test this morning. He cracked a rib in there. He thought he had the wind knocked out of him and was fine, but then after practice Saturday he came off the field and it was throbbing a little bit and it was sore, so he went in there and got it x-rayed and MRI-ed and that's what it revealed. He''ll probably miss some time, but I don't think he'll miss all of spring. He's going to miss this week for sure, until the pain subsides and he's able to practice again. Harwell, he's gotten better, but this is not a day for him to run around. We were planning to have him start some things today but given the footing and everything it wasn't the right day to do that. Robert Chai did some stuff on the side and he's looking pretty good. No set backs. If not this week, maybe the last two weeks of spring. Matt Willis has back spasms. He aggravated his back on Saturday and it locked up on him yesterday when he came into see the trainer. He's feeling better today but he wasn't able to do anything today."

Is Robert Kibble out of the hospital?

"He is. He's better and up in the dorm. He's feeling a whole lot better. He's just getting himself back. He's walking gingerly and things like that, but he still has a ways to go until he's able to get back to working out again."

How does Ryen Carew look?

"Good. It's unfortunate we're not going to be able to watch him in any contact drills. He can't have any contact the whole spring. But he looks like he still has the speed he had before his injury. He's quick and a guy like him you're hoping he can get himself to where he can help us next fall."

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