Tuesday Practice Report

"The blue shirts" -- the defense -- have their best day of winter practice Tuesday, looking very effective against the offense in a prolonged scrimmage. Head Coach Karl Dorrell comments about the standouts...

The Bruins used Tuesday's good weather to get into a lengthy scrimmage, with referees. Today's practiced showed a renewed spirit from the defensive units, which seemed to be a pleasant surprise for Head Coach Karl Dorrell.

-- Dorrell said he didn't expect defensive end Justin Hickman to practice until the middle of next week after breaking his sixth rib last weekend.

-- There were no new injuries to report.

Dorrell's post-practice interview:

"Good day for the blue shirts! It shows progress. They're sticking to it, the fundamentals, just coming out here and playing with great effort in a package. They're starting to develop and getting more familiar with it and all of a sudden it's not was it once was in those first few days when the offense was having a lot of success. So I am very happy to see that type of progress happen to our blue shirts. That's what this is all about, keep building as a team, keep being competitive and just keep going. It was good work, we haven't had the best of conditions the past couple of days but we ended up getting those practices in and hopefully have a great finish by the end of the week."

What do you see at linebacker right now?

"I'm not ready to make any determinations at this point. We're all trying to learn, we're trying to learn and that's the biggest thing. You're seeing a lot of linebacker combinations of guys learning, you know, really how to play from the fundamental standpoint. I know that's the first thing the coach (Chuck Bullough) wanted. He's really done a good job of just trying to install a foundation of just understanding reads and first steps on a read and things like that. This is football basics right now and all those guys are doing a great job of just teaching those basics and you see a little bit of that athleticism come out. That's at every position right now. I think the one consistent thing that our defense is trying to do is get a proper stance and that's all level of players on the field right now. Not just the d-line and their three point and the other guys doing their things. Everybody is in a consistent stance and that's the part of the game that we're trying to make and impress upon these young men, that they have to understand that to play it well you have to play it in the structure and you have to play where you understand your reads and you have to fly and do the things that come natural to you."

Anybody jump out at your so far, maybe guys that were on the scout team last year?

"You know who jumped out today? (Chris) Horton. It's good to have him back, we missed him a little bit last year with his broken wrist and he's one of those guys , as you know, that has a knack of being around the football and being in a critical situation and making the play. So that was the one guy that stood out today. I think Eric McNeal, talking about linebackers, him and Christian Taylor have done a very nice job of just playing sound and flying and actually the best thing is providing a lot of leadership for those younger guys. So I'm pleased to see that. Defensive front-wise, I think Bruce Davis is off to a good start and doing really well. There are a bunch of young guys going in there and trying to compete and doing well. So those guys are coming along and Bruce had a good day today. Secondary-wise Dennis Keyes did well and the guy that has been the most solid corner is Trey Brown. He has had solid play and making good tackles and breaking on the ball. Rodney Van has been doing the same so there are a number of good players that are doing a very good job."

How close did you come to pulling out Reggie Carter from his redshirt last year?

"It got close until after game three because as soon as that window closed I didn't really consider it again. We already pulled out Kyle Bosworth out of his redshirt so we were going to make do with what we had. It was good for Reggie to do that, he's still learning and growing. He's doing well but he's got learning to grow as a linebacker and to understand his keys and getting in the middle of things."

What's up with Justin Hickman?

"He has a small fracture in his sixth rib. He's day to day and he's feeling better today but I don't think he will scrimmage this week. I don't anticipate him being back until the middle of next week.

"So good start, good competitive start. I think the blue is closing the competitive gap on things which is good to see."

There was some good pass rush today?

"Yeah, you see that? It was good to see that. I think today surprised our offense."

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