For the third consecutive day, UCLA brought a lot of energy and spirit to the practice field on Thursday. Defensive players erupted in the Florida State/Atlanta Braves "tomahawk chop" chant during team drills and there were a few minor skirmishes during the mid-day practice session.
"Kids are excited about playing and finishing," Coach Rick Neuheisel said. "It’s that portion of the season where the guys who are fortunate enough to still be going are excited about it. And there’s a lot to play for especially given the conference. Only three teams are guaranteed a bowl and everyone else is in the same situation, fighting like mad and it’s going to make for some very, very competitive games."
The Bruins will take the next two days off as the coaches do some recruiting. The next practice is Sunday.
A few tidbits from Thursday:
As with last time the Bruins were off, the final practice of the bye week ended with a live scrimmage between the scout teams. Linebackers Eric Kendricks and Aramide Olaniyan each made a couple of nice plays on defense while Jerry Rice Jr. continued to show off some nice speed and open-field moves on offense. The offense converted a couple of fourth down plays, but did not score a touchdown. Receivers dropped several passes, two or three of which hit the ground in the end zone. "It's fun to watch them compete and watch their teammates get excited for them," Neuheisel said.
Receiver Nelson Rosario was limited after aggravating his sprained ankle on Tuesday. Neuheisel said he hoped Rosario would be at full strength soon. "He's still a little hampered," Neuheisel said. "Those are slow injuries to heal. I can be frustrated or I can be hopeful. I’m going to choose helpful."
Linebacker Patrick Larimore sought a second opinion on his dislocated shoulder, but Neuheisel did not have an update. Larimore injured his left shoulder against Oregon and season-ending surgery is a possibility.
Linebacker Steve Sloan did not dress, but did some running on the side as he tries to come back from a hamstring strain. Neuheisel said Sloan should practice Sunday, but would not commit to him getting his spot back at middle linebacker. Freshman Jordan Zumwalt has performed admirably in his absence. "We'll wait and see," Neuheisel said. "Certainly we like competition at all positions."
Special teams practice was especially spirited, with Coach Frank Ganz, Jr. even more animated than usual. Ganz, unhappy with one kickoff, asked the players "What is this, Dancing with the Stars?" then pointed at Ricky Marvray and said "Ricky, you're voted off." Later, Ganz tried to inspire the team by telling them Washington has a "martian who is 6-foot-10 and weighs 5,000 pounds and you better block him."
Offensive lineman Eddie Williams missed practice for the third consecutive day because of a sprained foot. Tight end Cory Harkey missed his second consecutive practice because of food poisoning. Safety Dalton Hilliard practiced in a red no-contact jersey as he recovers from a concussion.