Fun isn’t usually coach Jim Mora’s primary concern when it comes to football practice, but Thursday, it was at the forefront as the Bruins held their annual bye week scout team scrimmage.
The scout team, which consists primarily of younger players and redshirts, engaged in a 49-play scrimmage that gave the players, who usually simulate other teams’ stars, an opportunity to be front and center.
“It’s good for them to just be competitive again and go after each other,” Mora said. “It’s just good work. It’s more fundamentals and technique and competitive stuff that we can evaluate as a coaching staff as we go forward.”
The competitive environment brought an energy to both the field and the sidelines as the starters rushed the field on big hits and deep touchdown passes.
“They were just having fun today,” said redshirt senior defensive end Datone Jones. “It was great for me to get a feel for what they’re going to bring to the table for the UCLA Bruins in the future.”
Also adding to the excitement was the quarterbacks wearing white jerseys rather than the usual no-contact red jerseys, which meant free reign for pass rushers.
“It was good for the offensive line to have to know that they were really protecting them,” Mora said. “And it was good for our pass rush to know that if they got by a guy, they had a chance (to make a hit).”
Hitting the trail
With the Bruins on the bye week, the coaching staff is taking advantage of the time off by traveling across the nation to recruit some of the country’s top talent.
On Thursday, offensive line coach Adrian Klemm, linebackers coach and special teams coordinator Jeff Ulbrich and Y-receivers coach Marques Tuiasosopo were all absent from practice as they scoured the nation for top talent.
“We’ll all be on the road starting yesterday, today or tomorrow,” Mora said. “(We’re going) where we’ve got guys either committed or that we’re really hard on right now.”
Mora said the coaching staff would travel to the South, the Pacific Northwest, Arizona and all across California.
Relieved to return
UCLA has been relatively healthy thus far this season, but it did lose several players in the spring to season-ending injuries.
Redshirt junior inside linebacker Isaiah Bowens and redshirt freshman defensive end Sam Tai both tore their ACLs while junior safety Dietrich Riley has been recovering from a neck injury that he sustained last season.
While none of the three will play this season, they have returned to the practice field for non-contact drills and conditioning.
“It feels good to be back,” Bowens said. “We talk about it on the bikes every day and we’ve gotten a lot closer because we know we’ll be important to the defense next year. We’re just getting our mind right and working hard to get back.”
White feeling right
Redshirt freshman offensive tackle Torian White underwent a procedure on Tuesday to correct a heart problem that led to an accelerated heartbeat.
“It was successful,” White said. “They said I shouldn’t have any problems with it for the rest of my life.”
The procedure required the doctors to insert wires through a vein in his neck that led to his heart where they then burned one of the extra electrical circuits that caused the heart to beat rapidly at random times.
White will rest for the week following the procedure, but he’s confident that he’ll be able to return in time for the Arizona State game on Oct. 27.
“The doctors said everything should be fine,” White said. “They said to rest for a week and take pain pills twice a day and I should be ready to go.”
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