Thursday's Practice

The team settles in to its first and second strings and scout teams. Head Coach Bob Toledo comments on the depth chart...

At practice Thursday, perhaps the most significant development was that Marcus Reese and Craig Bragg both didn't participate. Head Coach Bob Toledo said Reese's status was unknown at this point. "He got a concussion," Toledo said. "We're waiting on the doctors to say playing or not playing. I think he was fine. He passed the first test, but he's had a concussion before so I'm sure the doctors are being precautious." Blane Kezirian also didn't participate in practice due to a sprained ankle.

The starting units worked together, and it was good to see the starting defense finally combined as one unit. Matt Ware and Ben Emanuel make for some pretty big, athletic-looking starting safeties, and there isn't much of a drop-off when you get to Jibril Raymo and Jarrad Page.

The scout team was established, with the scout team players wearing the numbers of Colorado State. It looked like Craig Bragg had shrunk quite a bit at first glance, but it was only Brett Mitchell wearing scout jersey #87.

The defense again looked very good, especially in its team speed. With Ware and Emanuel flying around, along with quick linebackers like Brandon Chillar and Spencer Havner, the team gets to the ball, especially on runs around end, very quickly. Dennis Link worked with the first team defense in the absence of Marcus Reese. Emanuel knocked down a pass on a blitz and Glenn Ohaeri had a nice pick.

The offense, though, looked more like it was starting to click Thursday. Paus looked efficient hitting his go-to receivers like Mike Seidman and Tab Perry. And even though the running backs don't have any one star, they are a steady wave of fresh legs with Jason Harrison playing both tailback and fullback, along with starters Akil Harris and Manuel White, and with a little help from Wendell Mathis and Tyler Ebell. It will be interesting to see how many snaps Harrison, Mathis and Ebell actually get in the Colorado State game. It would seem, from practice, that they could be shuttling in often, but the coaches could get more conservative for the game.

Steve Vieira, the starting right guard, has continued to aggravate a minor, but nagging, sprained ankle. He did so Tuesday.

Health could be the continuing story at wide receiver. Bragg, as stated, sat out practice. He's expected to return by Monday and to play against Colorado State. The policy will be for Ryan Smith to sit out about the first hour of practice because of a little flair up in his ankle injury, as he did Thursday.

Health is also an issue at fullback. Toledo said that they'd be giving up the real blocking fullback in Norton if he can't play.

Drew Olson looked to have a little spring in his step and his passing delivery Tuesday. Maybe it's imaginary, or maybe he was pumped by winning the #2 quarterback position. Remember, Toledo has said that the #2 quarterback will play in the first couple of games, so Olson, barring any unforeseen circumstances, will be running UCLA's offense as a true freshman for the Colorado State game.

A few players who have returned to practice are redshirt freshman wide receiver Josh Roenicke, freshman cornerback Jebiaus Brown and freshman linebacker Xavier Burgess. Burgess has yet to participate in a hitting drill.

Comments from Bob Toledo.

What led you to name Drew Olson as the #2 quarterback?

"We felt that number one he caught on extremely fast as to what we're doing. He obviously doesn't know it all. He grasps the concepts real well. He has some physical ability. I think what hurt Matt Moore is he sprained his knee. That's going to set him back and we had to make a decision. So this kind of cleans it all up for us. We just felt that he caught on well and he has a lot of ability and we like what we see."

Steve Vieira looks a little hurt. If he couldn't go, who would step in at left guard?

"Mociler would probably move there. He can play center, left guard and right guard. In reality, he's probably the next guy to go. We play the sixth best lineman, seventh, that kind of thing."

What's the status of the guys listed as injured on the depth chart?

"Lehmann is working with the trainer, hopefully he'll be allright. Carter, I don't expect him to play, but you don't know. Moore, sprained knee, he won't play in this game. All the redshirt stuff we decide at the end of the year. Norton, he has a pretty bad sprained ankle and we'll have to take that day by day. Pierre-Louis is the worst of the bunch and will be out for a while."

Without Keith Carter, and with Blane Kezirian hurt, are you concerned about tight end?

"We have a bunch of tight ends and have some guys who can substitute. We're trying to get Saia Makakaufaki caught up. Kezirian will be back Monday and he'll be okay hopefully. Right now we're trying to get Marcedes to the point that we can get him certain plays. We don't want him to know the whole offense and the whole game plan, but do the things he can do. The depth chart is for Monday, so everyone listed there we believe is going to be able to go by Monday."

There is also some depth question, because of injury, at fullback. Groves is listed at #2. What happened to Cassaday?

"You look at Cassaday and his knee's bothering him. Cassaday probably won't play very much. You look at Norton and he's got a sprained ankle and we don't know how he's going to be and we have Manuel playing fullback. Maybe it's one of those deals, process of elimination."

How is Craig Bragg?

"He has a slightly tight hamstring and I don't want to pull it right now."

How confident are you in Tyler Ebell as a punt returner?

What we're going to do is use him depending on field position. I want Ebell to be able to return a punt. He's pretty exciting when he gets his hands on the football. But I don't want to put him in a position where he might turn the ball over in a place that could hurt us. It will be based on field position."

What about Alex Potasi listed at #2 at left tackle?

"He's been a pleasant surprise, and it's been nice to see. Mosebar has been hurt a little. Potasi does some nice things. He did some nice things in the scrimmage yesterday. I was really impressed with the things he did."

What's your impression of the freshmen overall?

"We have a good group. I'm really pleased. As good if not better than I thought."

Justin London is listed third at middle linebacker...

"He wasn't on the two-deep? Yeah, he had a good scrimmage, too. He's not going to redshirt for sure."

What put Glenn Ohaeri ahead of Marcus Cassel?

"More intense right now, a little more physical. But Cassel is a good football player and eventually he'll get his chance, too. He'll play, we're just trying to get a depth chart for you guys."

What was behind the choice of Rusty Williams as the starter at one defensive end position?

"We have five guys that can play. We'll rotate them quite a bit. But you can call them all starters if you like. But Rusty's a senior. He deserves that opportunity."

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