The O Looks Sharper Friday

The offense -- particularly Ben Olson -- looks sharper as the team continues its preparation for the Utah game. In the OL/DL one-on-ones, there are some defensive linemen that look very impressive. Head Coach Karl Dorrel talks on video about the team's progress and a little show Friday night...

It was a pretty crisp, strong practice Friday, with the team practicing in shells.

It seems the team is getting back more of its injured, and the coaching staff is doing everything it can to keep the team as healthy as possible, such as not hitting near as much as the team did at the same stage of fall practice a year ago.

-- Cornerback Michael Norris is still in a knee brace. Dorrell has said there is a chance he could play against Utah.

-- Linebacker John Hale isn't participating, but did some running.

-- OL Chris Johnson is still out.

-- Tight end J.J. Hair still isn't practicing.

-- OL Tony Lee did some running, but that was it.

-- Freshman OL Sean Sheller is still in a knee brace.

-- TE Scott Glicksberg wasn't dressed and just did some running.

-- Fullback Jimmy Stephens did individual work, and worked with a trainer.

-- Running back Derrick Williams did some individual running and cutting drills.

-- Freshman OL Jake Dean suffered a bone bruise on his knee in the fall scrimmage and is wearing the standard OL brace on it.

-- Of course, receiver Joe Cowan is still in a knee brace.

-- Cornerback Matt Slater returned to practice fully.

The quarterbacks, for most of the day, looked fairly sharp. Except for the last 11-on-11 period, where both Ben Olson and Patrick Cowan only completed one pass down the field, they did well in every other period. Olson was consistently more accurate and showed great touch on a number of balls. He had a couple of errant throws, and one pick to Korey Bosworth where he tried to force it into coverage. But he threw a very pretty deep ball to Brandon Breazell, hitting the streaking receiver in the hands. He also hit Matt Willis on a post right in the hands, but Willis dropped the ball.

It is very evident that when the UCLA first-string offense goes up against the first-string defense, it's much more difficult for the O to complete a pass since the defense is very familiar with the offensive scheme. UCLA is now in preparation for the Utah game and the first-string O is going up against the scout D. And while the scout defense is, of course, just the scout defense, the offense looks sharp enough to garner some confidence in their ability to move the ball.

Perhaps, still, the worry is pass protection. There were a few break downs on Friday, with pass rushers getting to the quarterbacks far too quickly.

It appears that Aaron Meyer has moved ahead of Nathaniel Skaggs as the second-string center.

It's good to start seeing close to the real rotation at wide receiver, with Junior Taylor and Brandon Breazell getting a good deal of first team reps, with then Gavin Ketchum, Matt Willis, Terrence Austin and Andrew Baumgartner rotating in. Austin dropped one pass, but then rebounded by making two very nice grabs, one where he had to lay out in the middle of the field and scoop the pass off the ground. Everett should return to practice next week.

Tight end Ryan Moya has stood out the last couple of practices. Perhaps because he sat out a while with the hamstring injury, he looks like he has fresh legs, and he's done well, catching balls in traffic well and looking quick.

The OL went up against the DL in 1-on-1 and 2-on-2 drills for a period, and it was interesting. UCLA definitely needs DE Nikola Dragovic to be healthy since, in the drills, again, he has proven very difficult to block. Probably the other DL that got by the OL with ease was DT Kenneth Lombard, who uses his quickness to jet pass the interior OLs. Bruce Davis also did well to get by his blocker on the outside. Kevin Brown seemed to struggle a bit, but didn't look like he was hindered at all by his ankle. On the OL, Shannon Tevaga consistently kept his rusher in front of him; Meyer had one rep where he got a very good push against Brown, and freshman OL Brandon Bennett also looked good in containing Brown on one rep.

The Freshman Showcase was planned for Friday night, where the freshmen put on skits for the rest of the team. We'll have no video of the event.

Dorrell's Post-Practice Comments -- Watch Video

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