Defensive end Datone Jones, a camp standout the last few weeks, nearly lost his cool during an altercation with an unidentified teammate Thursday during UCLA's practice and was sent to the sidelines for a brief period before returning.
He needed some calming words from defensive line coach Inoke Breckterfield, but then rejoined his teammates after sitting out for about 10 plays.
"I just let my emotions get to me," said Jones, a normally even-keeled player who is expected to be a defensive leader for the Bruins this season. "I took a few plays off to get my mind right and realized it was pretty selfish of me and I apologized to my defense and it will never happen again."
It was the second consecutive day that things got chippy between the defense and offense. On Wednesday, defensive tackle Cassius Marsh and center Kai Maiava let things escalate to the point where Marsh threw his helmet to the ground and pointed in Maiava's direction yelling some choice words.
Jones, a 6-foot-5, 275-pound junior who sat out last season because of a broken foot after totaling 30 tackles, 11 tackles for a loss and four sacks as a sophomore, said his altercation did not get to the helmet-throwing level, but included the choice words.
"It’s going to happen," he said. "You’re going to have fights with your teammates on the field. You’re going to get into it. I guess we’re getting close to game time and things are getting tense."
A few tidbits:
Coach Rick Neuheisel indicated he would name a starting quarterback before the Sept. 3 season opener at Houston, perhaps sometime early next week, picking either Kevin Prince, Richard Brehaut or both. "I don't want to make it uncomfortable for anybody," he said.
Offensive lineman Chris Ward was still in a walking boot as he recovers from an ankle sprain, but he was without the crutches he needed on Wednesday. He remains day-to-day.
Defensive back Jamie Graham also attended practice without crutches, but was limping noticeably on his surgically-repaired right knee. He is expected to be out until at least mid-September.
Joe Fauria made a dazzling one-handed grab in the back of the end zone on a pass from Prince to cap the two-minute drill. Before the drive, Neuheisel told the offense it had to score a touchdown, not a field goal, to win the game.
F-back Damien Thigpen, out since the first week of camp because of a strained hamstring, did some light running on the side but did not practice. He indicated that he would be ready for the season-opener.
The team will hold a live scrimmage at the Rose Bowl on Friday afternoon during which Neuheisel said the team would "get after it." It is closed to the public and the media, but Neuheisel said that would allow live practice of some of the Houston game plan without the fear of prying eyes.