Dorrell and Dragovic After Practice

Head Coach Karl Dorrell talked after Friday's practice about preparation for Stanford, how the offense and quarterback Ben Olson looked sharper. Senior defensive end Nikola Dragovic answered questions about the hype of this year's Bruin defense...

Karl Dorrell spoke after Friday's practice:

"Good practice. We're starting our preparation for Stanford. I like how our scout teams are giving us some good looks. They're doing a nice job giving us some looks. A day out of breaking camp, you can tell we're still a little bit tired and sluggish. I thought the execution was pretty good on the offensive side. It looked like they were getting some rhythm offensively. Defensively we're looking good, too. It's just now freshening ourselves up now that camp has broke yesterday. Practice tomorrow late morning, and then give them Sunday off, and then get ready to go for a great week of practice before Stanford. It's been a good camp, yesterday went really, really well at the Rose Bowl. We gotta be ready to go."

Do you see Ben Olson's decision making being quicker?

"It is. He looked good today. He was certainly being more decisive. You can tell that he is a lot more comfortable, now that we're restricting all that information that we did throughout the camp and getting ready for a game plan. He's going to get himself to be really sharp by the end of next week."

How does the kick-off from the 30 change strategy and philosophy?

"Well, you really got to time up what I call your running forties with the coverage team.  Those guys can't be behind the line once he hits the ball. They have to be as close with the kicker as they can, because there is five more yards of coverage that you have to do. You're not going to see a whole lot of balls kicked out, so our coverage team has to do a really great job. On the other side, knowing that you're going to get a lot of kick-return opportunities, you have to do a great job with your scheme to give your runner a chance to hit some creases. It's a big play in college football and it's going to be a bigger play this year."

Does it change the kicker's approach?

"One thing you hardly ever see in the NFL is a lot of short kicking. The reason is they're kicking from the 30-yard line and if you miss they're going to have great field position. You just have to be really careful with the ball if you're going to have some schemes in doing that. We're just going to try to get it down the field as much as we can. And to get some height on the ball, so that our coverage team can get down there. That's the plan, that's all you really can do if you don't have a guy that has that boomer of a leg."

How's Jimmy Rotstein looked?

"He's doing a good job. He did well yesterday at the Rose Bowl, we were having him kick both ways and he was hitting it pretty good. I think he's going to be ready to go. It's good that he has had some experience doing that in games already in the Sun Bowl."

Was there a thought of having Kai Forbath do both duties to free up the traveling roster spot?

"We thought about that early on, but this is Kai's first year. Jimmy has been in a college game before. We felt in the end it was our best interest to keep Kai on one thing, and that's field goals. To have him do a great job scoring some points for us. He was perfect today, or he missed one. But he's really getting his rhythm down and the protection is looking a lot better. I'm really pleased with where he is at."

We spoke with senior defensive end Nikola Dragovic after practice.

How has your camp gone so far?

"Pretty well. I mean, camp is camp, you know, so it's still practice."

How do you feel in terms of injuries. Do you feel like you're at full speed?

"Yeah, I feel good right now. It's not something that worries me."

How do the high expectations affect you guys as a team?

"Well, we just treat every practice like a game. We're just trying to get better and better, the sky's the limit."

How do you feel about the expectation that UCLA will have one of the best defenses in the conference?

"Those are just rankings. We're focused on playing. Let's see what happens at the end of the season. Beginning of the season doesn't mean (expletive deleted)."

Do you feel any pressure after losing Justin Hickman?

"I don't think so. We're not focused on Justin Hickman from last year. We're focused on this year."

How does this defensive line group compare to others you've been a part of while at UCLA?

"I don't want to take anything away from other groups that have been here, but we're pretty good. We're going to do just fine. I don't want to look at us as the best that's ever come of UCLA, because that's (expletive deleted). But we're going to do fine. Everyone's so worried about how hyped up our defense is. Let's just see how we play before we worry about rankings."

Does the hype make you anxious to get out there and play Stanford?

"Yeah. We have something to prove, a lot to prove actually. We've been waiting for it all summer, and not just for Stanford, for the whole season. It's a marathon, not a sprint."

Individually is there any goal you have set for yourself?

"I just want to do the best I can."

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