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Spaulding Roundup: UCLA Preparing (For) Rice

Coach Mora, after Tuesday night's scrimmage (via YouTube/UCLA)

On the last day of public practices, before the coaching staff begins installing the game plan for next Thursday's season opener at Rice, the Bruins held a pair of sessions: a morning session, and a "psuedo scrimmage" in the evening.

Much of the morning session was spent simulating Rice, with the offense struggling with its rhythum and keeping focus at times. Kevin Prince was picked off twice by Randall Goforth in 11 on 11's. The evening saw the team scrimmaging in a padded, no live-tackle scrimmage. Per Melendez's practice report, Brett Hundley had shaken off his morning struggles - albeit getting picked off by Erick Zumwalt (not Jordan) - in the process, though Brehaut and the 2nd team offense were still a bit off. Mora pumped in crowd noise during the evening scrimmage for the first time since the Spring.

A few practice notes from the morning from Miguel Melendez:

Fabian Moreau continues to impress at cornerback. His ability to learn the position so quickly increases depth. Dalton HIlliard continues to see more time at inside linebacker. Damien Holmes' time has decreased some, but the assumption here is so that Hilliard gets as many reps during camp so he acclimates himself to playing at linebacker.

Nate Iese dislocated a finger, but returned to practice. Brandon Sermons and Keenan Graham missed practice due to Flu-like symptoms. And a few more notes from the evening session:

Dalton Hilliard continues to play inside, though Mora says he's still a safety. Hilliard considers himself a linebacker and seems to embrace his new role as a guy playing close to the line. He laid out Jordon James and Johnathan Franklin at the line of scrimmage for two huge plays... Cassius Marsh wreaked havoc penetrating with ease. Jordan Payton made a nice grab tip-toeing down the sideline for a nice gain.

There is still a bit of moving around going on with the offensive line.

Xavier Su'a-Filo switched from left tackle to left guard. Torian White was at left tackle. Simon Goines played right tackle and Brett Downey manned right guard. Jake Brendel was the only constant at center. UCLA coach Jim Mora said it's more of an experiment than anything while they continue to wait for word on Greg Capella (concussion), Jeff Baca (concussion), and Alberto Cid's (concussion) return.

Capella might be ready to participate in today's practice. Peter Yoon had some things to say about the O-Line as well, while sharing Coach Mora's approach to returning players to action after suffering concussions.

Still, Mora reiterated his stance about being extra careful when it comes to head injuries.

"Some injuries, you encourage and you push guys to get back on the field, you just do," Mora said. "With head injuries and neck and spinal injuries, the heat like we had out there, I think even when you think it’s time, you wait a little bit longer.

"These kids have a life to live when they are done with football. We want them healthy and happy. Of course we want to win football games but that always has to be secondary to the health of our players so we’re going to be very careful with those things."

The team will be returning to Spaulding Field today at 2:45pm, though today is the start of closed practices, so don't worry about skipping work or summer session classes to make it. And remember that Coach Mora is not amused by folks going "over the wall", so don't even think about pulling off that trick to get IN to Spaulding.