Temps and tempers soar at UCLA camp

August, 7, 2012
8/07/12
8:50
PM PT
SAN BERNARDINO -- UCLA started practice an hour and 15 minutes later Tuesday in an effort to avoid the scorching midday temperatures at Cal State San Bernardino and it helped in terms of reducing the number of heat-related injuries.

It didn't, however, stop coach Jim Mora from boiling over.

Mora said he noticed a consistent lack of crispness throughout the session and it came to a head about two thirds of the way through when he loudly scolded the coaching staff, using several choice words in his most animated outburst thus far in camp.

During a water break for the players, Mora huddled his assistants and continued to admonish them, yelling so loudly that he nearly lost his voice at one point.

"I believe that the players are going to raise up to the level that the coaches demand of them and I don’t have much sympathy for people that don’t operate at a high standard all the time," Mora said. "That’s what we’re getting paid and paid well to do, so if we’re not doing it then it’s my responsibility to make sure we’re getting back to it. I just felt like it needed to be addressed."

Another issue that needed to be addressed was how to keep players from overheating. On Monday, when practice began at 2:45 p.m., five players left practice with heat-related symptoms and needed to be iced down and given IVs. Mora changed the practice time to 4 p.m. for Tuesday and only two players suffered heat symptoms.

The scariest was when defensive end Cassius Marsh appeared to faint on the field at the end of a play. Offensive lineman Jeff Baca also wobbled off the field and needed treatment. Mora said the team would again practice 4 p.m. Wednesday as the National Weather Service has issued an excessive heat warning that lasts thorough Friday.

"There’s no doubt this is a tough environment to practice in and I don’t want to discount that, but the bottom line is we have to adjust to it because we have to play in it on August 30th," Mora said, referring to UCLA's season opener at Rice.

The temperature was 109 at the start of practice Tuesday, but it gradually cooled as the session went on and was below 100 by the end. On Monday, it stayed right around 105 for the entire session and that took a toll. Not only did half a dozen players get carted off, but Jordan Zumwalt and Dalton Hilliard felt symptoms later and were held out of practice Tuesday.

No players have had to be hospitalized, Mora said, and all seem to be recovering well with the protocol for heat illness in place.

"The doctors do an excellent job," Mora said. "They were a little overwhelmed, but we followed our protocol and it worked."

Still, offensive lineman Xavier Su'a-Filo, who has seen four members of his unit carted off with heat-related symptoms the last two days, said the team made the right call to switch the practice time. And with the Bruins going to full pads for the first time Wednesday, it makes even more sense.

"The heat is no joke and a lot of guys aren’t used to it," Su'a-Filo said. "It doesn’t matter what time practice was, whatever coach said we were going to do it. It’s camp. But I definitely think practicing a little later was nice."

Peter Yoon

ESPNLosAngeles.com

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