Fifth-year senior Marcus Cassel has been down this road before and his experience might be making a difference in the battle to determine UCLA's starting cornerbacks.
Cassel entered training camp as the bottom player out of five competing for two jobs. Over the last two days, Cassel's steadiness has moved him to the No. 1 unit along with Trey Brown.
"He had a big interception in our scrimmage on Saturday and he continues to make plays here on a day-to-day basis," Coach Karl Dorrell said about Cassel. "He's fighting in there, competing. He's one of our better corners right now."
The competition between Michael Norris, Rodney Van, Bryon Velega, Brown and Cassel has been so tight, the Bruins continue to rotate the corners with the first team defense.
"The competition has always been there, every year," said Cassel, who had 33 tackles and two fumble recoveries last season. "Whether it was last season with Nnamdi Ohaeri or this year ... you have to look at it from a positive where it raises everybody's level of play.
"We know that whoever starts, we all have gotten measurably better because of the competition."
Cassel outplayed Ohaeri, who has since left the program, in camp last year and started the first half of the season. By the time the Bruins played Stanford, Cassel had lost his confidence and was on the bench watching Brown start alongside then-senior Matt Clark.
"When I started the first game last year ... it was kind of tough for me," Cassel said. "I had a lot of pressure on me and I let it get to me. I would try to play everything so perfect. Now I understand that you're going to get beat at times and I don't have that fear anymore.
"This year, I feel the pressure in a different way. It's pressure for me to be more of a leader. Jarrad Page and I are the only seniors in the secondary and I feel like an old man out there. Whether I'm starting or not, it's important for me to show by example how to practice and the intensity that you need to have."
When asked to reflect on his career at UCLA, Cassel -- who served a one-game suspension for an off-the-field incident at the start of the 2003 season -- said he has matured as a person and player.
"Everything that can happen has really already happened to me," said Cassel, a psychology major taking one class in the fall with plans of attending graduate school next year.
"I remember when I first arrived here and I was like a lot of 18-, 19-year-olds. Getting a full ride to a university like UCLA. Feeling like a big shot. Sometimes, you need things to happen to you in order to bring you back down and level you off ... realize that you're here for a purpose. You represent a lot more than just yourself."
Redshirt freshman Ben Olson had his swollen left hand wrapped as he watched both practices Wednesday. Olson bruised his hand Tuesday when he hit a teammate's helmet following through on a pass.
Dorrell still hasn't named a starting quarterback, but Olson's injury will probably give the spot to senior Drew Olson, a three-year starter.
Ben Olson is listed as day to day as the Bruins have already begun game preparation for their season opener at San Diego State on Sept. 3.
"I feel kind of bad because [the injury] might play into it a little bit, as far as if I'm healthy and ready to go in time for the game," Ben Olson said.
"But you know, I'm really not in control of that. It's kind of a freak accident and these things happen.."
Asked when a starter would be named, Dorrell said: "We're going to let [Ben Olson's] bruised hand calm down. Sometime this week, we'll get it done."