UCLA officially broke training camp Tuesday night, with players who live off campus moving out of the dorms and the practice plan starting to focus on the Sept. 3 season opener at Houston.
But that doesn't mean things are getting any easier on the field.
For the second consecutive day, the Bruins endured a grueling practice in hot weather. Wednesday's practice included conditioning drills sandwiched between the 11-on-11 drills and the two-minute drill.
"We have to make sure people understand that we have to make this difficult," coach Rick Neuheisel said. "We have to make it hard because it’s going to be hard in Houston. We’ve got to push through. Everybody’s tired in college football and you can’t give in to it and for the most part we didn’t."
A few tidbits:
Offensive lineman Chris Ward was at practice on crutches and in a walking boot a day after leaving practice with sprained ankle. He said it was not a high ankle sprain and that he is day-to-day.
Receiver Taylor Embree had an MRI on his ailing right calf that showed some fluid behind his knee, but no structural damage. He did some light running Wednesday and said he expects to return at full speed by Monday. "I’m relieved," he said. "I was a little bit worried that it might have been a blood clot or something along those lines. But it’s obviously a relief that it’s nothing serious."
Defensive lineman Cassius Marsh and center Kai Maiava got into a scuffle that ended with Marsh throwing his helmet to the ground and uttering some choice words toward Maiava, but things cooled quickly. "This is that time of camp where tempers are short and guys who are very competitive are going to go head to head and you are going to have some flare ups," Neuheisel said. "It’s just important that it doesn’t spill over."
Those not expected to get playing time in the season opener wore scout team jerseys for the first time as the Bruins began to install the game plan for the season opener. Nick Crissman and Darius Bell split time as the scout team quarterbacks, though Maxwell Schuh wore jersey No. 7--the number of Houston quarterback Case Keenum.
Punter Jeff Locke, who looked good the last two days as a field goal kicker, badly hooked a 31-yard attempt at the end of a drive in the two-minute drill.
Receiver Nelson Rosario sat out of practice because of illness. He later tweeted that he threw up several times during practice.
Linebacker Isaiah Bowens, who missed the last two days because of a family matter, returned to the field and resumed his duties as second-team middle linebacker.
The football team from Camp Kilpatrick, a juvenile detention facility in Malibu, watched practice and received a motivational speech from former UCLA and NFL safety James Washington, now the Director of Scholarship Development at UCLA.