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Ben Olson Has a Solid Scrimmage

Times Staff Writer

Redshirt freshman quarterback Ben Olson was a fan favorite at UCLA’s scrimmage Saturday and he didn’t disappoint with two touchdown passes to tight end Marcedes Lewis at Drake Stadium.

But whether Olson’s performance was good enough to take away the starting position from senior Drew Olson, Coach Karl Dorrell wasn’t telling after the Bruins’ two-hour scrimmage.

“It’s as tight as it’s ever been,” Dorrell said about the battle between the Bruins’ unrelated quarterbacks. “They both did some good things ... and had good qualities about their control and command in the huddle. That’s what I was paying attention to.”

Ben Olson completed eight of 12 passes for 82 yards, including touchdowns of 38 and 15 yards to Lewis. Drew Olson completed eight of 15 for 105 yards, including a 31-yard score to Joe Cowan.

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Although both quarterbacks worked with the first unit, Drew Olson began the scrimmage first under center and considers himself the starter.

“It’s up to the coaches, but I am still the starter until otherwise, until someone starts in front of me,” said Olson, a two-year starter who missed spring drills while recovering from knee surgery after last year’s Las Vegas Bowl.

“I take on the responsibility of being the starter. I feel like that, and I take over the offense with that mind-set.”

Ben Olson, a transfer from Brigham Young who is coming off a two-year Mormon mission, was also pleased with his effort Saturday.

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“I did some things well in my first ‘real’ game-type situation since January of 2002,” Olson said. “It was great to be out there.... I just have to improve from this performance, that’s how I look at it.”

In the controlled scrimmage, which included special-teams plays and other isolated situations, Dorrell complimented the mobility of both quarterbacks and said Drew Olson showed that “he’s definitely well improved to what he was a year ago” and “Ben is starting to feel comfortable in the offense, and it’s starting to show.”

Working with the backup units, senior David Koral completed six of 13 passes for 59 yards. Redshirt freshman Patrick Cowan completed eight of 14 for 66 yards with one touchdown and an interception.

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Junior Kevin Brown suffered a severe high ankle sprain early in the scrimmage and will be sidelined at least six weeks. Brown, UCLA’s most experienced defensive lineman, was injured when he got caught in a pile on a screen pass to fullback Michael Pitre. Although he did not suffer a fracture, Brown will have a pin inserted to reposition the ankle on Monday.

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Although it took UCLA 11 possessions before getting him the ball, Lewis finished with three catches for 66 yards.

Chris Markey, slowed most of camp because of a hamstring injury, had 78 yards in 21 carries with a two-yard touchdown run. Maurice Drew played sparingly with nine carries for 28 yards.

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Junior defensive end Nikola Dragovic started and had two sacks. Junior end Justin Hickman, sophomore end William Snead and freshman end Nathaniel Skaggs also played well for a revamped defensive front that combined for nine sacks. Senior cornerback Marcus Cassel had the only interception. Redshirt freshman punter Aaron Garcia struggled in averaging about 40 yards a kick. Kicker Justin Medlock made field goals of 30, 48 and 40 yards but missed at 53.

Not playing because of injuries were linebacker Wesley Walker (knee), safety Chris Horton (wrist), running back Kahlil Bell (concussion) and wide receivers Gavin Ketchum (shoulder) and Matthew Slater (leg).


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