SAN BERNARDINO -- UCLA came on to the field in full pads for its training camp session Tuesday at Cal State San Bernardino, but about halfway through coach Jim Mora had everyone shed their shoulder pads and the Bruins practiced that way for the final hour or so.
Temperatures were again soaring during the late-morning practice, but taking off the pads had nothing to do with the heat, Mora said. It was a planned move to give the team a live, goal-line drill early on and then have a lighter practice the rest of the way.
"It’s getting to the point in camp -- this is our 13th day in the heat -- I wanted to give them a chance to recover a little bit," Mora said. "That’s why we came out early and we’ll come out tomorrow and have two."
The live goal-line drill was only the second time Mora has had a fully live session during camp and he said there probably won't be many more. He's hoping to stay as healthy as possible for the Aug. 30 season opener at Rice and will not have any live scrimmaging before then. There is no fall scrimmage planned this year.
It's a major shift from spring football, when the Bruins were going live on a regular basis.
"The design was to have a physical, intense, lot of live in spring and kind of set the tempo that way and then come out here and be physical, but not necessarily take guys to the ground," Mora said. "When you say live to a football player, it’s hard to say live but don’t cut block, don’t tackle low, don’t take a shot on your teammate. Your mindset changes when you say live."
The idea is to avoid injuries, but it comes with the risk of being rusty when the games begin. Mora said the "thud periods" are all about trying to find a balance of proper tackling technique, while staying safe.
"The term 'thud' for us indicates that we’re going to stay on our feet, try to finish with our chest on you, backs know you are going to get hit so get in a position where you can deliver a blow or accept a blow and protect the football, but we’re trying to stay on our feet as much as we can," he said.
"I don’t think you necessarily have to take a guy to the ground to put yourself in position to finish the tackle ... I think that if we do a good job of focusing through the end of the play, necessarily taking a guy to the ground, we’re going to get the best of both worlds right there."
Other notes from Tuesday:
Positive sign: Mora wasn't happy with the way practice started, calling it "sloppy" but was pleased that the team quickly turned it around and practiced well.
"I think that’s the sign of a team that’s maturing. It’s hard coming out here every day and just pounding on each other and sometimes it gets sloppy," Mora said. "But the teams that aren’t making progress, the sloppiness continues. The teams that are making progress find a way to pull it together and that’s what we did today."
Bowling bond: Mora planned to take the team bowling as a team bonding experience. He said he would divide everyone into teams and the environment would be competitive, but that the main idea was to share an experience as a team.
"There will be guys bowling with each other that probably haven’t talked a whole lot in their lives and it’s just another good chance to get to know each other," he said.
Injury report: Receiver Devin Lucien sat out of practice after taking a blow to the head on Monday. Mora said "if it is a concussion it’s minor. He was out here, so the light is not affecting him and noise is not affecting him so it shouldn’t be long with him." ... Receiver Ian Taubler sat out the end of practice after suffering heat-related symptoms. ... Offensive lineman Tre Hale attempted to practice but continued to struggle with the same heat-related symptoms that have plagued him for several days.