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March 5, 2006

Notes from the sideline

The offense came out of hiding during yesterday's scrimmage and showcased a very impressive and physical drive. The defense had been the ones doing most of the showcasing of late so it was good to see the offense get back their sea legs. There something for everyone during that drive.

Running back Chris Markey once again made a move that you can't coach. It was a brilliant piece of footwork that had linebacker John Hale in no man's land.

Markey has those moves that make would tacklers look like they're slipping on banana peels trying to tackle him.

Quarterback Ben Olson ran the offensive superbly on this drive that included nice throws to Joe Cowan and Brandon Breazell. Breazell has had a great spring and is making a statement.

The white shirts (offense) drove the right down the field their first drive that culminated with a Derrick Williams touchdown. Williams is another guy who has played well this spring and if he stays healthy should help the Bruins this fall.

Enter quarterback Patrick Cowan for the second drive and the offense didn't skip a beat. As a matter of fact, Cowan may have had his best showing this spring. He was that good running the offense. He also displayed excellent leadership, which incidentally is a quality that is very important to the position.

Cowan hit wide receiver Andrew Baumgartner on a strike and then scrambled for a first down.

Safety Aaron Ware made a nice tackle, but another impressive drive was on led by Cowan.

On one of the prettiest plays of the day Cowan hit Bruin walk-on Bobby Whithorne for a nice gain. Whithorne showed off some fancy footwork staying in-bounds and making the catch.

Whithorne originally signed with Washington out of high school so he is not your usual walk-on type. He seems to making an impression as he's getting more reps.

So far the scorecard reads two drives and two touchdowns for the offense.

It has to be said that the defensive line was playing without Kevin Brown, Chase Moline, Brigham Harwell and Justin Hickman.

The defense started to kick it in gear on scrimmage's third possession.

Defensive end Bruce Davis is another player who has been making plays this spring and making a statement sacked Olson on the first real good defensive play up front thus far in the scrimmage.

Olson showed some nice poise hitting Markey out of the backfield but the gain wasn't enough to move the chains so the next group came onto the field.

During this sequence of plays the defense played the way they have last few days, very dominating.

Enter Cowan for the second time and once again the red shirt sophomore quarterback moved the team hitting both Markey and Kahlil Bell to move the chains.

Cowan threw another pretty ball to walk-on Joseph Angelo who made a sensational grab to stay in bounds.

Once again Williams ended the drive with a touchdown for the white shirts.

It was good to see sophomore offensive tackle Nick Ekbatani playing with a lot of fire and emotion. After the Williams touchdown Ekbatani led the celebration showing the same passion that the defensive players have been showing all spring and it spread among his other offensive mates.

The fourth possession started off crazy with a bizarre play. It looked like Olson tripped over Markey for a loss. When things like that happen, especially during spring, it is hard to get any rhythm.

Corner Michael Norris made a nice play to get his first of two picks on the day.

Red shirt frosh quarterback Osaar Rasshan took his first snaps of the scrimmage during possession eight. He promptly hit tight end Tyler Holland on a nice hook-up.

The good would not last however as defensive end Chinonso Anyanwu picked off his second pass of the spring. Anyanwu could emerge as a third down guy if he keeps this up.

Anyanwu's first pick came on Thursday and he got his long gram in the passing lane and tipped the ball then it was batted back to him while he was on his back. He had the awareness and athleticism to get the pick.

During Saturday's scrimmage he picked off a screen pass and took it to the house.

Anyanwu must play 15 feet tall with his long arms.

The scrimmage pretty much ended on a high note for the defense. The line, though having to play a lot of reps, due to injuries, put pressure on Cowan who made his first mistake of the scrimmage, as he forced an ill-advised pass that was picked off by Norris for his second interception of the scrimmage.

All in all it was a pretty good day for the offense as the quarterbacks looked good, the running backs ran hard and the receivers did a nice catching the ball.

The defense though a beat up along the front still played hard and made plays. There is a whole new attitude being bought into by the defense.

Offensively it looks like they are building on past successes and once again be one of the best in the Pac-10.

Sidebar notes:

Incoming freshmen wide receiver Terrence Austin, offensive lineman Jake Dean and offensive lineman Sean Sheller were on hand to watch the scrimmage and to a man they are impressed with what's going on this spring.

All three said they are impressed by the tempo and intensity at practice and are chomping at the bit to become a Bruin.

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