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Scrimmage Seen as a Barometer

August 21, 2004|Lonnie White | Times Staff Writer

Regular-season playing time for many young UCLA players will be at stake today when the Bruins conduct their first full scrimmage of training camp at Spaulding Field.

For someone such as sophomore defensive lineman Kevin Brown, today's 10 a.m., scheduled 90-play scrimmage will be similar to a midterm exam in front of the Bruin coaching staff.

"I'm feeling more confident out there because I'm getting more familiar with different types of blocking schemes," said Brown, who played on both the offensive and defensive lines last year. "I'm able to react a lot quicker now. I'm not taking baby steps looking for things. Now, I am able to make plays at full speed and that's what the coaches want to see."

Coach Karl Dorrell not only wants strong individual performances, he also wants the Bruins to execute the little things.

"We have a young defense and I want see how well they run to and attack the football," said Dorrell, who plans to have his first teams square off for much of the scrimmage. "Offensively, I want to see more detail. I don't want to see bad snaps and people jumping offsides. I want to see us play a lot cleaner."

The Bruins, who will play their season opener against Oklahoma State in two weeks at the Rose Bowl, have a couple of unsettled positions that will be the focal point today. Marcus Cassel and Nnamdi Ohaeri are in competition at right corner as are Wesley Walker and Aaron Whittington at outside linebacker.

With Eyoseph Efseaff doubtful because of a groin injury, starting spots also are up for grabs on the offensive line at center and guard. The Bruins also want to take a close look at freshmen linemen Shannon Tevaga, Brian Abraham and Chris Joseph, who work with the second unit.

"Our kids see this as a prime opportunity to showcase how they are going to play," Dorrell said.

"We're not going to set a depth chart in stone based on tomorrow. But it is part of the equation."


Linebacker Justin London, who suffered a high ankle sprain Thursday, will be sidelined at least two weeks and is questionable for the season opener. Linebacker Tim Warfield, who backs up London, could miss the next week of practice or more because of a knee injury suffered Thursday. Danny Nelson will work with the first unit in place of London and Warfield today.

Dorrell said running back Manuel White, who has missed most of camp because of post-concussion symptoms, would participate but would be limited in today's scrimmage.

Wide receiver Junior Taylor, who suffered a hip injury early in the week, practiced Friday and will play.

Fullback Michael Pitre, who has been impressive throughout camp, will work with the first unit today and split time with returning starter Pat Norton.

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