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"Competition, baby"

Lonnie White has a report on the ongoing quarterback competition in camp:

Olson is a more poised player with a better command of the offense than he was last year when competing for the job. But there are still times when he looks like a quarterback who has not started a game since his senior year at Thousand Oaks High in 2001. The 6-foot-5 lefty also broke his throwing hand and sat out three games last year.  [...]

"You just have to roll with the punches," said Olson, who attempted only four passes last season. "It would be nice to get some more reps and all, but I can't control that. That's Coach Dorrell's call. All I can do is just try my best to help the team and to continue to make the most of what I'm given."

Cowan, who completed only five touchdown passes as a senior at Bellflower St. John Bosco High, was not a big-name recruit when he signed with UCLA in 2004. But he has quietly gained the respect of his teammates and coaching staff with steady improvement. [...]

At 6-4 and 220 pounds, Cowan has gained nearly 30 pounds and doubled his bench press since his redshirt season in 2004.

But it's his increased confidence and strong arm that made him a candidate to start this year.
Dorrell of course is trying to play coy refusing to name a starter. But it's a given that after it is all said and done Olson will be the starter. It is great to see Cowan progress so well. He is going to give Bruins much needed insurance should something unfortunate happen to Southpaw Jesus (knock on wood). Teams like Oklahoma would love to have a QB in the caliber of Pat Cowan on their roster. So any way look at this competition is great for both QBs as it will keep them focused and get them ready for the opener.

Speaking of competition an interesting development at the WLB position. From Dohn in the Daily News:
Linebacker competition: Junior Aaron Whittington is off to a fast start in camp and has overtaken Eric McNeal to run with the first-team defense at weakside linebacker.

"Competition, baby," Bruins coach Karl Dorrell said. "He's doing a nice job. He's doing a great job on special teams, too. You've got to reward guys like that, coming out day-in and day-out and playing with consistency. You've got to put pressure on those guys that are competing. He's had a couple of good days."

One of the reasons for Whittington's emergence is his size. He began training camp weighing 215 pounds, and as Dorrell pointed out, isn't hovering near the 200-pound mark anymore.
That is good to hear. I am not worried about the LB position as others are given the depth we have at DL. And this news of Whittington pushing McNeal is great news. Perhaps this will light a fire in McNeal who is one of the best hitters in this defense. Dohn's report also focuses on Rodney Van, the cornerback who has NFL potential, but is having an inconsistent training camp at least through the first week. Van needs to get it together fast, because it sounds like coaches will not hesitate to shuffle the starting lineup based on performance in the training camp, not necessarily experience.

Two new faces who figure in prominently and get some playing time is true freshmen Al Verner and red shirt junior Matt Slater. The OC Register has more on how these two kids are competing to get in the game:
Alterraun Verner is a freshman, only six days into his college football career, and yet he is dealing quite well with the gobs of information that are getting thrown at him every day in position meetings, walk-throughs and on the practice field.

There are new schemes, new alignments and depths, and twists or tweaking to be made on any particular play. "It is," he said, "a big adjustment from high school."

Matt Slater was a wideout when he came to UCLA in 2003, played in only five games over the past two seasons without catching a pass and now moved to cornerback is working with the defenses as well as the precision dance steps at his new position.

There is the staple, the back pedal, but also coming out of breaks properly, angles to take. "The footwork," he said, "is totally different."

Both are doing well.
Make sure to read the Register article because it delves into how Walker and DeLoach (Secondary Coach) are working to get the young group of DBs up to speed.

If any of you want to take in practice here is the tentative schedule which was posted on the UCLA website. Keep in mind these times could be subjected to change. So any of you (who do not live on/near campus) thinking of going may want to check in with the Athletic Department before heading down to Spalding field.

Lastly Dohn has this interesting note on his blog:
One other quick note: There's a cheerleading/dance team camp going on next to UCLA's practice field, and early in Friday's practice the camp was playing the USC fight song over the loudspeakers while the Bruins practiced.
Not a bad thing IMHO. They should probably play that piece of shit fight song every day before starting practice. It will keep the memory of 19-66 fresh in everyone's mind.