Moore Still the Starter This Week
Coach Karl Dorrell pulled the plug on a potential quarterback controversy Monday when he named Matt Moore the starter for Saturday’s game at Washington State.
Moore completed 19 of 31 passes for 145 yards in a 21-14 loss to Stanford last Saturday but was sacked eight times for a loss of 53 yards. The sophomore was pulled in the fourth quarter in favor of Drew Olson, who completed five of 12 passes for 94 yards and led the Bruins on a seven-play, 80-yard touchdown drive.
After the game, Dorrell said he would “determine at a future time” who his quarterback would be for Washington State, giving the impression that Moore and Olson would battle for the job in practice. But Dorrell ended that speculation Monday.
“I don’t want to create any uncertainty,” Dorrell said. “Both are competitive by nature, and both believe strongly in their abilities. We’re trying to do what’s best to beat Washington State, and to start with concrete answers on how we’re going to do that. So, there’s no controversy.”
Moore looked a little wobbly after absorbing a hard hit while releasing his last pass of the game, but neurological tests over the weekend ruled out a concussion. Though Dorrell thought Moore might have held on to the ball too long on some plays, he said most of the sacks were the result of issues beyond Moore’s control.
After watching film of the loss, Dorrell concluded that UCLA’s inability to handle Stanford’s constant blitz was the result of miscommunication along the Bruin offensive line.
“We had trouble identifying the defense at times,” Dorrell said. “I have to give Stanford credit, because they caused enough confusion where sometimes we had two guys blocking one guy and one guy went free. That’s something we as coaches have to do a better job of preparing our players for.”
Just as a quarterback can call an audible, a lineman can adjust a blocking scheme based on a certain defensive look.
“What causes confusion is when not all the linemen see the same look,” Dorrell said. “When you have an inexperienced line, that happens. If that means limiting the number of protections we use [to simplify the game plan], we’ll do that....
“Every week, I know [the opponent] is going to blitz. It’s been that way for four or five weeks. When you have a young offensive line, they have to be on the same page. There’s a reason it’s called a unit, because they all have to understand exactly where they’re going and who their responsibilities are.”
Cornerback Matt Ware, who has sat out three games because of a high ankle sprain, did some jogging over the weekend and will try to practice today. If Ware is able to backpedal effectively and drive off his injured ankle by Thursday, he will play against Washington State.
Defensive tackle Rodney Leisle (high ankle sprain) will sit out his second consecutive game Saturday, but Dorrell is hopeful he’ll return Nov. 15 against Oregon. Defensive end Mat Ball, who sat out the second half of the Stanford game because of a lower-back strain, underwent X-rays and is questionable for Washington State.
Reserve linebacker Xavier Burgess, who was arrested last week on five misdemeanor charges stemming from an altercation with a campus parking attendant, has been suspended indefinitely. Burgess, the third Bruin player to be arrested since late June, will not be able to practice with the team.
“These things are not going to be taken lightly anymore,” Dorrell said. “I want to be real effective in how I deal with these issues.”