Mora pushes reset button on UCLA practice

August, 15, 2012
8/15/12
2:14
PM PT
SAN BERNARDINO--Jim Mora employed the old if-at-first-you-don't-succeed method when UCLA's practice didn't get off to a particularly sharp start Wednesday morning at Cal State San Bernardino.

About 20 minutes in to the session, Mora pushed control-alt-delete and had the players start over from the pre-practice warm up. He said it was a bit of a fun hangover after a team bowling trip the night before and implored the team to learn how to re-focus after a fun experience.

"Sometimes they just need a little push to get going," Mora said. "What I think they are starting to understand is that every time you step on the field, regardless of the circumstances, you have to focus in. I thought they responded well."

Safety Dalton Hilliard also noticed a lack of focus during the early portion of practice with some guys standing on the sideline holding various conversations and not paying attention to what was going on in practice. He fully supported Mora's decision to restart.

"We needed it," Hilliard said. "Whenever we have success and come off of a big win or having fun, we have to be able to flip the switch and put work in."

Hilliard, a senior, said he later regretted not taking action himself and had a meeting with some other seniors about making sure they take the initiative in those situations.

"That’s not something [Mora] should have to do," Hilliard said. As seniors, we have to take it upon ourselves to be like ‘hey guys, let’s focus up.’ As seniors we have to take that a little more seriously especially these next two days with guys focusing on getting back to Westwood. We can’t have our guys lose focus and we have to really make sure the guys finish strong."

O-Line adjusting: The offensive line, down more than a handful of players because of injuries and heat-realted issues, is starting to get some players trickling back into action.

Alexandru Cheachir returned Wednesday morning after sitting out several days with heat issues while Simon Goines, Michael Padovese and Will Oliver were all in attendance. They did not dress, but getting outside is a strong indication that they are close to a return from their heat issues.

The falloff of lineman that ran rampant early in camp seems to have halted, thanks in large part to an adjustment of how they are practicing. Early on, the linemen spent the entire time in the sun, even doing conditioning drills in between periods.

Now, the linemen get frequent breaks in the shade and rest even while the skill players run pass patterns.

"When you’re down numbers and you go at the tempo that we go at, you have to be careful with those guys, Mora said. "They’re the biggest guys, it takes them the longest to cool off so we modified how we practice them strictly because of numbers."

Center Jake Brendel, one of the few linemen who has not had heat problems during camp, said the extra rest has made a big difference.

"It’s really helped," Brendel said. "We’re getting back to full rest, getting back to as rested as we can be to get to the next team period. Lowering the heart rate down and regrouping because this offense can be really intense."

Injury updates: Offensive lineman Torian White will have a procedure later this month to correct a heart rhythm problem. He is cleared to practice until then and is not expected to miss time after the minor procedure...Receiver Devin Lucien sat out of practice for the second consecutive day with a concussion. There is no timetable for his return...running back Damien Thigpen, who has a history of hamstring issues, did light work on the side after feeling tightness in his lower body, Mora said.

 

Peter Yoon

ESPNLosAngeles.com

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