On Saturday morning, after finishing their warm-ups and position drills, the members of the UCLA football team, excluding the quarterbacks and kickers, circled around the middle of Spaulding Field.

With the offensive players on one side and the defensive players on the other, the team proceeded to participate in a three-on-three hitting drill. Three members of the offense lined up against three players on the defense and then proceeded to try to either knock the other to the ground or out of the circle.

It was a drill that brought the multitude of spectators to their feet, sparked a couple of shoving matches and skirmishes between the players, and symbolized what the Bruins hope will be their trademark this season: toughness.

“Our mantra is, when I say, “˜What is our trademark?’ they have to say “˜Toughness,’” defensive coordinator Chuck Bullough said. “Now you can’t just say it, you got to be it. So that’s what we stress every day.”

Three practices into spring, the Bruins have set out to be a tough and physical team, especially on the defensive side of the ball.

After spending the past three seasons as the Bruins’ linebackers coach, Bullough took over as defensive coordinator when DeWayne Walker left UCLA for the head-coaching job at New Mexico State. One thing Bullough has sought to emphasize in his time as coordinator thus far is a physical, tough and intense defensive mentality.

That toughness comes from his father, Henry, who in his 23 years as a defensive coordinator in the NFL came to be known as the “Doctor of Defense.” And Bullough’s intense style of coaching can easily be seen.

During the defensive warm-up drills, Bullough was constantly in the middle of the field, yelling at his players to sprint from one station to the next.

“The defense has a lot of intensity, and that comes a lot with coach Bullough because he’s a very intense, intense man,” redshirt senior linebacker Reggie Carter said. “He loves the game.”

Carter has spent a lot of time with the new defensive coordinator, as Bullough was his position coach for the past three years. And in his experience with Bullough, Carter has come to know what Bullough demands every day from the players.

“He’s big on technique and getting technique down and doing the right technique because that matters,” Carter said. “Technique can change a game. It’s a game of inches and angles, and technique has a big part of that, so he really stresses to have the proper technique and be where we’re supposed to be at the right time so you’ll be in the position to make the plays.”

Bullough said the structure of the defensive system will basically remain the same, with a few tweaks here and there to accommodate his defensive philosophy.

Part of the reason the defense will be largely the same is that Bullough was one of the coaches who constructed the present UCLA playbook three years ago.

“We didn’t have any playbook ““ we just started from scratch,” Bullough said. “So it’s basically a conglomeration of ideas, and I liked the ideas, so I’m basically staying with the same stuff.”

This sense of familiarity has made for a smooth transition from Walker to Bullough, players said.

“We’re still having the same intensity,” said cornerback Alterraun Verner, a junior last season. “The same thing is basically established, he just changed little things to try and fit his coaching style and try to fix the team’s style.”

Verner said it was easy to see the character of the this year’s team.

“We’re going to be a physical team,” Verner said. “You’re not going to be playing out there because he likes the hitting, but knowing your responsibility, knowing your assignment, being able to get in this gear and going to that gear. He wants us to go full speed and fly to the ball, kind of how we preached last year.”

Safety Rahim Moore, who started all 12 games for the Bruins last season as a true freshman, has great expectations for the Bruin defense this season.

“I have a feeling,” he said. “That we’re going to be one of the best defenses in the country.”