Monday Night Practice and Comments

There's an update on some of the players injured in the morning session, including cornerback Rodney Van. The team goes through two-minute drills, which will have new rules governing it this year in college football. And Head Coach Karl Dorrell talks about tight end Logan Paulsen...

It was a brisk Monday afternoon practice on the IM field, and that's not only because UCLA finished up 30 minutes earlier than scheduled. For most of the afternoon, the Bruins focused on their two-minute offense, which might look a little more fast-paced due to new clock rules implemented by the NCAA for the upcoming season (Dorrell addresses below).

Ben Olson took the reins first in the two-minute offense, completing 5 of 6 passes and setting up a long field goal, which Justin Medlock missed badly.

Pat Cowan than took his turn, completing 6 of 10 passes and hitting Junior Taylor over the middle for a touchdown in tight coverage. Neither quarterback enjoyed a standout afternoon, though Cowan's two-minute drill fared markedly better than his performance in 7-on7s. After completing six of his first seven passes, Cowan fired off seven straight incompletions, badly underthrowing and overthrowing his targets.

INJURIES:

Rodney Van: Suffering from a little headache, tests performed; wanted to return in the afternoon, but coaching staff wanted symptoms (headache and stiff neck) to go away before putting him back out there.

Bruce Davis: Strained his groin at the end of the morning practice. Tightened up on him, so no afternoon practice.

Dragovic and other previously injured: Still limited to one-a-days.

BEST HIT OF THE PRACTICE:

Linebacker Kyle Bosworth put a nice hit on and stood up Kahlil Bell near the line of scrimmage where there appeared to be a hole.

Quotes from Head Coach Karl Dorrell:

"We got some good work done. Specializing in two-minute drills and some pressure situations where the offense has to check and get us in the proper protection. Those periods went very well. "We practiced some third down, that's always hard on the offense when you're not in full pads. But I'm really pleased with everybody's progress. "It was really quick today. We were flying around, doing what we needed to do. Went through two-minute drills, which is going to be a critical change in college football with the new clock change. We have to continue to work with that, but I was pleased with how we handled that."

How is Rodney Van?

"Rodney is fine. He has a little bit of a headache. We had some tests on him and we think he's going to be all right. We're just going to take a day or so. He wanted to practice this afternoon, but we wanted to get some of his symptoms, like headache and stiffness in the neck, we wanted to have that alleviated before he goes back out.

"Bruce Davis had a groin strain; he did it at the end of the morning practice. He was tight, so that's why he didn't practice (in the afternoon)."

"Dragovic and most of the guys that have been on one-a-day schedules: Dragovic is still nursing his hamstring, so we'll take it day-to-day whether he comes back; but all of the other guys are playing one-a-days."

How is Logan Paulsen doing in the tight end competition?

"He's competing pretty well. Right now we have a hamstring bug that's bugging us at that position. He has a little bit of a sore hamstring, but he's been practicing. Moya is not able to practice because his has gotten too tight. And Tyler Holland has a hamstring injury, so all three of those guys have hamstring issues. Of them all, he's still fighting through practice and getting better and really working through it. He's doing well. He's a young player. He didn't play a lot for us last year, so to me he's like a redshirt freshman, still learning and still growing at that position, and I'm pleased with what he's been able to do at this point."

Do you expect Moya back soon?

"I hope so. He wanted to go out there today, but he was still too tight. So we're hoping tomorrow will be a better opportunity for him."

Smilingjeffrey's practice report:

First off, besides the typical "red shirts" for the second of two practices, we had Bruce Davis without pads. he wasn't exactly limping, though it appeared there was something going on with his right leg. it looked more like he was walking a little gingerly. Rodney Van made it to practice, but without pads as well. he walked around naturally...I think his was a collar or neck/high shoulder issue though. Matt Slater was dressed for practice, but his left shoulder is definitely hurting him. Not sure what the issue was, but Vache Sevagian was a no-show for both sessions as far as I could tell. Lastly, Hale had this wrap on his right leg. The entire leg was wrapped, though he played thru the practice anyways.

The team practiced in shells in the afternoon. The theme for today was "hurry up" I think. In the first warm-up period, the offense was practicing the hurry up offense, while the defense was doing more teaching and regular warm-up activities. The offense was working on getting to the LOS quickly. it appeared we were able to get plays off within 10-15 seconds after the previous play was whistled dead.

The DL was mostly working on agility drills early in the practice. One of the drills was a fumble drill using bags as a prop. The DL would do high knee-lifts as they made their way sideways along the LOS going over the bags, then at the last bag, Howard would fumble and the player was to scoop it up. The DBs were working on run support on sweeps. They practiced bracketing the ball carrier with the outside guy yelling, "Outside...outside" as they converged.

During the third period, the offense was running pass plays. It was very obvious that the "lesson" of concentrating and holding onto the ball by the WRs was learned. While I didn't see every throw, I watched the last 16 throws. The QB's and WR's completed 14 of the 16, with no drops and only 2 bad throws.

The next period was a 7 X 7 drill. Initially, I felt that Ben Olson pumped his arm one extra time each rep he took. His timing was off as a result. Cowan was more "consistent" in his drops and sent the ball on time. Ben definitely improved his mechanics as the session continued. I didn't see Svoboda talking to him, so he might have self-corrected. If so, that is a nice sign of maturity by Ben. In the non-contact drill, Matt Slater hurt his shoulder again by reaching with his left arm high. He was definitely distressed at that, but stayed in for his reps and continued playing through it. I didn't see him wince after that play.

The team then did an 11 X 11 passing drill. Verner made some nice plays on defense. Overall, the competition of offense against defense was very high during this drill. They really went after each other. Dorrell was very vocal in praising the defense whenever they competed hard for a pass. Only bad moment was after Gavin Ketchum battled for a ball and came up gimpy. Noit sure what happened to him, but the trainers tried to loosen up his leg (it appeared to be either his left thigh, or quad), but he didn't participate afterwards.

Dorrell was particularly hard on the QBs in this drill. He would allow the QB only 5 seconds to check off and run the play. At the silent count of five, he would bark out, "Five seconds! That's a win for the defense...nice job defense!" and immediately rotate the offense out without their taking a snap. Time was critical for the offense today.

A great drill was then run. The team practiced the "2:30 left in the game" drill. Dorrell was telling the offense, "We have to make a field goal out of this. You have only one timeout. We need the field goal." I started cringing a little because I was thinking, "Why not say that we need a TD instead?" But that was when things got very interesting for me.

There appears to be new rule changes taking place that result in the clock running even after incomplete passes (as well as first downs). So, when Ben Olson was at the helm, 70 yards away, he was able to get the ball close enough for a field goal try of about 50 yards, but it was short.

Pat Cowan then took the helm and orchestrated a drive that ended with a TD pass to Taylor with 0:06 left on the clock. That was when the interesting discussion happened. The coaches were not that happy with the pass to Taylor. They definitely did not criticize the play, but wanted to discuss the implications had he caught the ball, for a first down, but stayed in bounds.

There had already been a discussion concerning the "speedy FG team" being ready....when Cowan hit Taylor with a nice strike from 20 yards out. Taylor caught it at the 7 and took it in from inside the hashmarks. Had he NOT made it, there would have been no time to get the speedy field goal team onto the field with the new rule about when to start the clock after a first down. The ball would have been placed too far away to get the team onto the field. And spiking the ball would not have helped either. This was a great drill to run to get people acclaimated with the rules in my opinion. Strategy shift mentally to be sure. So, they took the TD off the board and tried it again, and Forbath was able to make a 37 yard FG with 0:12 seconds left. This topic alone should result in some serious threads being written I think.

The practice finished with a "down and distance" scrimmage. The pass rush was very good, and the pass protection was not. There were quite a few sacks, most all coming from the outside. It appeared that the TE and RB blocking was suspect. There were at least two instances where a blitzer sacked the QB without being touched. That may have been because they were blitzing alot. Seems the defense is typically ahead of the offense, and it might be true of team pass protection and pass rush at this point in time.


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