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Offense still is finding its way around

UCLA REPORT

August 16, 2007|Chris Foster | Times Staff Writer

The strange personality that the UCLA offense has displayed through training camp had another mood swing Wednesday.

Quarterback Ben Olson found his receivers, and got the ball to them. Terrence Austin made a spectacular diving catch deep down the middle. Tailbacks Chris Markey and Kahlil Bell both ran with purpose in a goal-line situation, scoring touchdowns against what is expected to be a stingy defense.

It could be called progression -- and Coach Karl Dorrell called it so. Yet, these outbursts of productiveness have also been followed by backsliding, as was apparent Tuesday, when the offense gave a scout-team performance.

"It's just one of those things in fall camp," Olson said. "Certain days are better than other days. You go out there and fight through it. . . . I think in the next week, we'll home in on what we want to do this season. We'll narrow the focus and start working on groups of plays. We're trying different things on different days, giving different looks."

The look was considerably different Tuesday, when the offense was overwhelmed. That was particularly evident in a beat-the-clock exercise, when the offense failed to even come up with a first down in a four-minute drill.

The follow-up Wednesday was a bit smoother and more productive.

"It's training camp," offensive coordinator Jay Norvell said. "Things are coming together. We're playing against ourselves out here; guys get to know each other. We won't be playing ourselves when the season starts."

Dorrell accentuated the positive, saying, "Defensively, we're really, really good. Any time our offense can have success against those guys, it's a positive sign."

Offensive consistency was tough to attain with two-fifths of the offensive line missing.

Shannon Tevaga was limited in practice, as Dorrell said the senior guard underwent a test on his shoulder that revealed a "minor fraying of his labrum." Tevaga has also had a sore right wrist.

Center Chris Joseph was pulled from drills because of a hip flexor.

Joseph "should be fine," Dorrell said. Tevaga's shoulder, on the other hand, will need to be monitored throughout the season.

"It doesn't necessarily need surgery," Dorrell said. "He has been playing with it actually for a year. It's a matter of management and getting himself going for the season."

The Bruins' depth at running back seems to get thinner every day, with only five backs able to go through contact drills.

"We've never had this many injuries," running backs coach Dino Babers said. Yet, the upside is the Bruins' top two tailbacks are unscathed.

Markey and Bell are fit and, Babers said, have improved significantly as backs.

"I feel we have a really good 1-2 punch," Babers said. "Chris and Kahlil Bell can run with anybody." As for concerns about keeping the two backs healthy, Babers said, "You let them prepare for the season and cross your fingers that nothing else goes wrong."

Markey, who missed spring ball because of a stress fracture in his right foot, will welcome extra work. "I need it," he said. "I didn't practice in the spring, so more work will help me get back into the flow."

Receiver Osaar Rasshan sat out practice with what Dorrell called a mild concussion. . . . Fullback Michael Pitre was limited to a few drills because of a sore left knee.

--

chris.foster@latimes.com

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