The UCLA football team will once again scrimmage itself this Saturday, but the Bruins’ surroundings couldn’t be more different.
Replacing the 80-yard Spaulding Field will be the 92,000-plus capacity Rose Bowl, which coach Jim Mora said he hopes will be filled with no fewer than 50,000 UCLA fans.
While the drills in Mora’s second spring game – including one-on-ones, pass rush and strength-on-strength drills, like UCLA’s Pride Alley drill, and some live scrimmaging – remain the same, the UCLA coach said he is counting on the bigger setting to test his players.
“I want to see us be able to get into a new environment in the Rose Bowl, where it’s more vast than this, and there’s a crowd there and focus and not be distracted by the stuff and just focus on the task and execute,” Mora said.
UCLA’s home opener against Nevada is still more than four months away, but the team said its mentality won’t change, that fans are fans and competition is competition.
“It’s easy to keep that mentality,” said rising redshirt senior wide receiver Shaquelle Evans. “It takes away a little bit because we’re not used to doing drills before a game, but as long as there’s a game and people there to watch it, you want to give them a show.”
The pre-spring game drills also might allow several players wearing red non-contact jerseys, including rising sophomore cornerback Ishmael Adams, to join in on the evening’s events. Adams, who underwent shoulder surgery last fall, has remained physical in spring practice without being allowed to tackle, and said he hopes he’ll be able to participate on Saturday.
“I’m not exactly sure of what they have planned,” said Adams on Wednesday. “I’ve heard we’ll be doing some seven-on-sevens and one-on-ones, but I’m not exactly sure how it’s going to be. Hopefully I’ll be able to participate, dress out and be out there with my guys.”
Day one Datone
On Thursday night, former UCLA defensive end Datone Jones was drafted by the Green Bay Packers as the No. 26 overall pick in the 2013 NFL draft.
Jones became the first UCLA player to be selected in the first round since tight end Marcedes Lewis was taken No. 28 by the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2006.
“I’m just excited, man,” Jones said Thursday. “I couldn’t have done it without my guys at UCLA. Without those guys, none of this was possible.”
The defensive end had 6.5 sacks and 19 tackles for loss for the Bruins last season, and indicated that his preparation for his new career would begin with no time off.
“It starts tomorrow morning, waking up tomorrow morning and making sure I get my Friday morning workout with (UCLA strength and conditioning coach) Sal Alosi, making sure I’m not getting complacent,” Jones said. “This is still a job and I have to better myself every day and (make sure) that I’m working out every day.”