With UCLA's secondary doing so poorly against the run last Saturday against Oregon, the UCLA defensive coaches experimented in practice. Redshirt freshman Glenn Love and true freshman Tony Dye were each given reps with the first-string at strong safety in place of Bret Lockett, who has been struggling.
Defensive end Tom Blake is considered very doubtful for Saturday against Stanford, suffering from a lingering sports hernia. Reginald Stokes started last Saturday and took most of the reps, but true freshman Datone Jones could be getting more playing time because of his athleticism.
There has been a little shake-up on the defensive line, with Stokes and Jones filling the vacancy at left end caused by Blake being out. Jess Ward, who spent the first three years at defensive tackle before being moved to offensive line this season, now has moved back to defensive tackle. Defensive end David Carter has moved inside to defensive tackle, and Chase Moline has moved outside to defensive end.
Moline injured his back weight-lifting this morning and sat out practice. It's unknown if it's an exascerbation of his previous back issue.
Quarterback Ben Olson was in pads for practice Tuesday but didn't participate. It's still anticipated his first chance to return will be the bye week of October 27th.
Nick Ekbatani, who has been starting at right tackle, took reps at right guard, with junior Micah Kia getting time with the ones at right tackle. Kia was the starter at left tackle before freshman Jeff Baca beat him out for the position a few weeks ago.
Here are some post-practice comments by Reginald Stokes.
What are your thoughts about starting against Oregon?
"Just building confidence in my coaches and my teammates, showing that I can play a little bit. Just going out there and playing hard, trying in my first time starting to be impressive, trying to do something good to show my teammates and coaches that I can play there. All week long while practicing, Tom Blake helped me out. While he was down, he was showing great leadership. I thank him for that.'
What advice did Blake give you?
"Just stay low, be aggressive, and don't let one play discourage you. Just go out there and have fun."
How do you think you've improved in the program?
"I think that I'm quicker in the two years I've been here. Been studying more, been looking at more football, talking to the older guys that played with me, like Bruce Davis. I talk to Justin Hickman all the time. He was a great player here. I just talk to those guys and try to get some tips here and there."
What's your mindset with your increased role?
"Just take it one day at a time. Practice hard, watch film, get ready for each team week by week."