Thursday's Practices

The team is getting more physical and you're starting to see some real hits. The defense looks very impressive, with a number of standouts for the day...

Today, the team did a little tackling in full pads. Not too much, but during some short, controlled scrimmages.

Being able to actually tackle has now given us a better grasp of where the team is, and potentially how good they are, even if it just was for two practices. It especially helps in being able to evaluate the defense since, after all, their job is to tackle.

The Defensive Standouts:

Marcus Reese looked outstanding today, in both the morning and afternoon practices. He was filling holes, making hits and was all around the ball. He had a number of tackles for loss and was especially good at shedding blocks and stuffing the run.

Dave Ball is making plays, looking not only huge and strong, but quick for his size. He is too much many times for an offensive tackle to handle, especially in defending the run.

Spencer Havner had a few good stops on the day, and looks very quick plugging holes.

Asi Faoa, not only in the scrimmage but in the pass rush drills, was very impressive. He's very, very quick and has great pass rushing moves.

Matt Ware is getting sharper, looking better in pass coverage and very good in run support. He is an intimating force at free safety, and has had some big hits – or near hits (in the non-hitting drills). Being able to hit is Ware's strong suit. Ware also picked off a pass and returned it for what would have been a touchdown.

Rod Leisle actually participated in the rush drills, and looked like an NFL player. He's too strong and quick and literally pushed his blocker back a couple of yards on every rep.

Jibril Raymo has looked physical and especially good in run support from the strong safety position. He got an interception in the morning practice on a tipped ball.

Ryan Boschetti is making it more and more difficult to redshirt him. In the pass rush drills, he was perhaps the most impressive pass rusher among the tackles. He juked a blocker so well that he got to the quarterback untouched. He had perhaps the best defensive play of the scrimmage when he shot through the line for a sack.

Steve Morgan and Sean Phillips both had very good days, even though Phillips suffered a sprained knee and missed half of the afternoon's practice. In today's Bruin drill, both were outstanding, physically manhandling their blocker. Morgan was also very impressive in the pass rush drills.

Ricky Manning is consistently impressive. In coverage, he can physically take a receiver out of his route and tie him up at the line of scrimmage. He also had some great tackles against the run, leveling Tyler Ebell on one sweep.

Justin London is positioning himself to make a real impact as a true freshman. On a sweep, he shot through and tackled the running back for a loss. He had a number of similar plays today and looks like he'll be so good that he'll probably end up seeing a significant amount of playing time this season.

Patrick Pierre-Louis, while he gets corrected quite a bit by the coaches, also has made a fair share of very good plays, especially today.

On offense, Tab Perry had a good day, catching a number of touchdowns. He looks faster and is more able to get behind his defender. Ryan Smith is cementing his role as the steady possession receiver, catching many balls today in traffic. He caught one Drew Olson pass by his fingertips when slanting over the middle. Jon Dubravac also had a few nice catches today. He looks very big and his hands have been very sure in practice.

Among the quarterbacks, Paus performed well, especially in the scrimmages. He was accurate in his short throws and made some very good decisions. On a scramble, he found Mike Seidman with nice touch about 30 yards down the field, and Seidman advanced it another 20.

Tyler Ebell has had two good days of practice. In my report yesterday, I forgot to mention that Ebell had a very good day returning punts. He's still catching the ball with his pads, which has made him miss a few, but yesterday, in a live punt drill, he had three successive returns where he completely juked the defenders for big gains. As a tailback, when he's caught behind the line, he goes down. But when he has a little daylight and can make it pass the line of scrimmage, he's very effective. He's broken off a few runs in the last couple of days using some very pretty cuts.

In the pass rushing drill and the scrimmages, we're getting a better feeling for the offensive line. Mike Saffer is perhaps performing the best among the OLs. He didn't get beat once in the pass rushing drills and looked very good in the scrimmages. Eyoseph Efseaff is looking very good. He can literally eat up tacklers in the Bruin drill, and is near-impossble to get through in the pass rushing drill. Steve Vieira also has done very well at right guard. He looks like he has now emerged as the clear frontrunner to start at that position over Shane Lehmann. The worry on the offensive line looks to be center, as you might expect, and possibly Bryce Bohlander at left tackle. Bohlander can have a good rep, but then get beat on the next. He looks to be fairly solid on run blocking but struggles sometimes on pass blocking. At center, Mike McCloskey was struggling in the pass rush drill while Paul Mociler looked better equipped physically to fight off the likes of Steve Morgan.

Attending practice this afternoon was Kevin Brown, the defensive tackle from Long Beach Poly, as well as his teammate Charles Owens. At this morning's practice was UCLA commit, Dennis Keyes, and his talented teammate, cornerback Chad Green.

Injury update:

Rod Leisle is working into some drills. It seemed he absolutely demanded he participate in the pass rushing drills.

Sean Phillips, as reported above, twisted an ankle. His status is unknown.

Marcedes Lewis sat out the day with a mild concussion, but is expected back tomorrow.

Kevin Brant sat the day, due to good jolt to the head that had effected his equillibrium.

Josh Roenicke, the freshman walk-on wide receiver who was probably the #7 wide receiver on the roster, injured his shoulder and is in a sling.

C.J. Niusulu continues to sit out practice, but is working out lightly off to the side, as is Jebiaus Brown.

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