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UCLA REPORT

Quarterback Race Is Even

August 20, 2003|Robyn Norwood | Times Staff Writer

The competition between Matt Moore and Drew Olson is so tight, UCLA might open the season with the two quarterbacks sharing time.

"I think that's still going to be an issue, because to me, it's not head-and-shoulders one's above the other," Coach Karl Dorrell said Tuesday. "There's a pretty good likelihood that may happen. That's not something we haven't talked about."

Olson started the final five games last season and had a slight edge out of spring practice, but Moore, who has the stronger arm, has caught up in preseason camp.

If one of the two sophomores is superior in Saturday's scrimmage, he could win the job, but Dorrell seems prepared for the decision to take longer.

"We're going to do what's best to operate our offense. If that means playing with two, we'll play with two. If it means you think one is the guy, then we'll stick with the one. But we won't make that determination until next week."

If the Bruins alternate quarterbacks, Dorrell is inclined to plan in advance when the second will enter the game -- a tactic that earned former coach Bob Toledo plenty of criticism last season when he ignored momentum to stick to his plans.

"I would think we would probably have to designate certain times in the game for the second person, whoever that may be, to play," Dorrell said. "If you do it by feel, with everything that happens in the game, you'll forget to put in the other guy."

But even if the quarterbacks share time against Colorado Sept. 6, Dorrell is still looking for one to emerge.

"We would like to have one. But there is that possibility because of the competition it may be two. But ideally, in any ideal situation, you want one to be the guy."

*

Tight end Marcedes Lewis had one of his best days of practice after a day that wasn't so good.

"Today, he showed his ability be to an outstanding receiver," assistant coach Gary Bernardi said. "Yesterday, he dropped four or five passes."

With the more experienced Keith Carter somewhat doubtful for the first game as he recovers from the hip injury he suffered in a motorcycle accident, Lewis could play a key role early. He'll share time in a rotation with Blane Kezirian and J.J. Hair as the Bruins try to fill the spot vacated by Mike Seidman.

Lewis has added 10 pounds to his 6-foot-6, 250-pound frame over the summer and his understanding of the offense is coming along.

"Due to Keith Carter's injury, I need to step up and take the responsibility, work hard and try not to make as many mistakes," Lewis said. "I need to get better on my blocking if I'm going to be a real dominant tight end."

He has a chance.

"We all know the kind of ability Marcedes has. It's pretty obvious," Bernardi said. "Just in the last three or four days he's made remarkable improvement."

*

Add center Mike McCloskey and safety Ben Emanuel to the group of players sitting out temporarily because of concussion symptoms.... Schedule alert: Instead of moving today's second session to the evening, UCLA will practice from 3:30-5 p.m. as originally planned.

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