Head Coach Karl Dorrell spoke with the media following the General Press session. Here are the comments from Dorrell.
On being more comfortable in the head coaching role:
Things are going good and when things are getting done you feel more comfortable. It’s fun coming to work.
On the biggest obstacle for a successful season:
I think its going to be ourselves. We cant falter in our execution and what it is we want to do to ultimately succeed.
On the new staff members:
There is a real rapport with the staff now. As a coach, you have to make necessary adjustments, whether during the season or the offseason. This staff needs to get the best out of our talent. I know you need a great staff to win, and I think we have the guys in place for a solid staff. Me and Tom (Cable) work real well together, and I’ve put a lot of time into this being the right staff. I think as a staff, we are more on the same page from a year ago.
On the overall impact of Craig Bragg
I tell Craig all the time he is too quiet. That’s why no one around the country knows about him. Even during games he doesn’t talk to opposing players. He just is a leader by example. When he is done, he’ll own every receiving record at UCLA, and when you think of the receivers UCLA has had, it shows you how impressive it is. Everything about Craig is what we want in our guys. His work ethic in practice. The leadership he shows the younger guys. Craig just does a nice job. He is a great leader.
On Jarrad Page’s comments after the Silicon Valley Bowl
I view what Jarrad said as a positive. Bringing it out commands people to listen to what he said. Hardly anything was said during the year, but when Jarrad talked after the bowl game, and Dave Ball said some things too, it brought it out. And I really think that at that point, the program changed. Guys were called out, and this offseason they are buying into what are trying to do. Those comments affected each person down the line, and guys are taking ownership now. It really served as a wake up call.
On Marcedes Lewis
We need Marcedes to have a productive season. This year, Marcedes will be more of a factor in what we do. He was a little banged up last year, and he faded a little bit, but you saw at the beginning of the season how much of a factor he can be in the offense. He will always be a tight end, but don’t be surprised when we split him out wide and use his receiving skills as a matchup problem.
On the running back situation
We’re going to use Manuel White, who’s been a very good player for us as a fullback, a tailback, as a one back. Maurice Drew is one of those players who has earned his keep with his teammates. You’ll see those players on the field at the same time, and running as one backs. Both of those guys will provide great gains to our running game.
On the running back depth behind Maurice Drew and Manuel White
We’ve got some guys back there that could do a job if called on. But its still a little shaky. Jason Harrison isn’t quite 100% yet. Derrick Williams has a lot of potential. Ideally, we would like to redshirt Chris Markey.
On the redshirt freshman expected to make an impact
I think Chris Horton, Dennis Keyes and Bruce Davis are all going to be real impact guys for us. Chris Horton had a very impressive spring, and has come a long way. Dennis has shown a lot of promise. Bruce, we are expecting big things out of. He had a very productive spring, and he is going to be one of the guys we need to replace Dave Ball. Michael Pitre redshirted last year because of an injury but he is going to do some things offensively for us. Our team doesn’t have the attitude “you can only play if you are an upperclassmen”. They have the mindset that if you are good enough, young or old, you better be playing.
On Brigham Harwell
Brigham is a guy we are thinking has a good chance to play for us this season. He’s also going to play on Dave Ball’s side. We think he could help us this year.
On the true freshman who could play early
You really don’t know until practice starts. We feel we have a solid group of freshman coming in. The biggest chance is on the offensive line. Two or three of our 6 incoming linemen have a chance to make the deep. It depends on how fast they learn our offense and where they are at from a strength and physical standpoint.
On the JC transfers
Marc Villafuerte is in the hunt on the two-deep and should be a solid reserve. David Koral has made great progress from spring to summer. Dan Nelson is a second-team player who will start down the road. Kyle Morgan is our No. 1 defensive end right now, and Justin Hickman is also going to see a lot of time on the defensive line. Matt Raney, he’s a little banged up right now, but he is going to provide a lot of depth for us.
On the linebacker situation
With guys like Spencer Havner and Justin London, we have what we feel is a pretty special group there. Losing a guy like Brandon Chillar is tough, but we feel we have some good guys there. Wesley Walker is a head right now as the third linebacker, but he’s still going to have to work there in the Fall. Spencer is playing where Chillar was at and Justin is still our middle backer. Wesley is now at Sam backer.
On the cornerback spot opposite Matt Clark
We have several guys who are going to be in the mix there. Mil’von James, Jebiaus Brown, Marcus Cassell and Nnmadi Ohaeri. We feel they are all good guys for that position. You’ll probably see 2 or 3 of them starting there unless one really steps up.
On the kick/punt returners
Maurice Drew will still be our chief kick returner, and Craig Bragg will be our punt returner. The other kick returner will be from among a number of young players. Idris Moss and Junior Taylor are a couple of them. Matt Clark could also return kicks. We have a number of defensive backs who think they can do it too. Dennis Keyes is another.
On the offensive line
Right now, we have Robert Chai plugged in as our guard, and Mike McCloskey and Paul Mociler will be going at center. The other three starters will still be Steve Vieira, Ed Blanton and Eyoseph Effseaff.
On the past recruiting class
That’s what I have a hard time with, people knocking these recruits before they even show up on campus. That’s unfair to the kids. I don’t think people understand what’s going on. Its not the kids fault he is coming to UCLA, so why do people knock him for choosing to come here. We feel really good about this incoming class, and we have some guys that we think will make a real impact early.
On using former coaches to bounce things off of
You don’t all of the sudden become a dumb coach after years of coaching. Mike Shanahan won Super Bowls with John Elway, then didn’t just become a bad coach later. I talked with Tyrone Willingham a lot about that. He goes 10-2 his first year, but told me “Karl, I got a lot of work to do here.” His second year, he goes 5-7 and now he’s all the sudden not a good coach? You have to take what you read with a grain of salt. Tyrone going 10-2 his first year, when he knew there was a lot of work to be done probably was tough for him because when they struggled last year, he got a lot of bad press.