NOTE: I missed the final two minutes of Mora’s interview because my iPhone overheated.
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*We learned today that LB Patrick Larimore suffered a concussion Monday and not heat-related issues that pulled him out of practice. He did not take part in meetings Monday night and was held out today as well. UCLA coach Jim Mora said the team will be extra careful handling Larimore given he suffered a concussion at the end of spring camp, too. Jeff Baca, Cassius Marsh, Brett Downey were pulled from practice for heat related issues. Anthony Barr, who has been nothing short of impressive as a linebacker, appeared to suffer a hand or finger injury. Mora wasn’t sure of the extent of the injury. Tight end Joseph Fauria was limited in practice with a sore hip. Tre Hale and Simon Goines also did not practice. Running back Malcolm Jones did not practice. “He was fine (Monday) and then he woke up and felt like he had a mild groin sprain,” Mora said. Jones will be back in a day or so. Randall Goforth also stepped out of pratice and Dalton Hilliard was held out because he felt lightheaded after a morning lift.
**Mora on the heat: “No doubt this is a tough environment. I don’t want to discount that, but bottom line is we have to adjust to it because we have to play in it Aug. 30.” It was a nice 106 degrees when practice started. Ricky Marvay wasted no time squeezing water behind his neck and those of his teammates in between running drills, and several linemen during a break dipped their helmets in a water cooler.
***Mora was visibly upset at the coaching staff. He laid into them during a popsicle break. Yup, a popsicle break that even had Kenny Walker saying, “Is this for real? I feel like I’m being set up.” Mora on why he was upset to the point where he almost lost his voice: “I just believe firmly that the players are going to raise to the level that the coaches demand of them. I don’t have sympathy for people who don’t operate at a high standard all the time. It’s hard to come out here every day and operate at a high level. Not eveyone can do it but it’s our job.”
****An unfamiliar scene unfolded at the start of camp as freshman QB Devin Fuller joined Shaq Evans, Steven Manfro, Jordon James, Damien Thighpen, Ahmad Harris and Kenny Walker returning punts. Mora addresses the thought process behind Fuller returning punts in the video and Fuller expresses how he felt about the idea of returning punts. Evans has an eye for location and Manfor is such a playmaker. Fuller dropped his first attempt but eased into it afterwards and went over it a little bit more with the rest of the guys when practice ended. Walker is explosive and could make an impact returning punts.
*****Wide receiver Javon Williams continues to show upside in the second unit. You can see he’s anxious to contribute. During a two-minute drill near the end of practice, it appeared as if Jerry Johnson tweaked his ankle and stumbled somewhat getting back for the next play. Williams was at the ready and even headed to the line before Johnson waved him off.
******The energy was low at the start of camp and it showed. There were four false starts in the first 26 plays. But that all changed after Mora’s meeting with coaches and ended on a high note with solid two-minute drills, mainly thanks to Brett Hundley.
*******Hundley as you would expect by now showed tremendous poise and leadership on the field. He was the guy trying to rally Devin Lucien early on as he struggled. Lucien bounced back nicely with a long completion in the two-minute drill. Hundleycompleted a touchdown pass to Malcolm Jones that Mora waived off at the 2-yard line because he wanted a first-down situation. There was no denying Hundley on his second-go around with a 51-yard touchdown pass to Darius Bell. On the extra point, the offense was levied a 20-yard penalty (no word on what caused it) but Ka’imi Fairbairn converted from 32 yards. It was low, but good. Jerry Neuheisel also took part in the two-minute drill with a solid screen pass to Lucien. But in that series Anthony Jefferson almost picked him off and the drive stalled inside the 10 yard line. Richard Brehaut struggled. He ovethrew receivers on his first two attempts and was intercepted by Tevin McDonald off a Logan Sweet tip. Kevin Prince did not get a rep. On special teams, Justin Moreno converted field goals from 22, 27, 38 and missed from 43. Fairbairn converted from 27, 38 and missed from 43.
********Mora is high on fullback David Allen, much so that he’s dubbed him the starter. “He’s tough, hard nosed,” Mora said. “The number one thing is his attitude and intensity. He’s a great kid, so focused, he wants it so bad. He’s got really good leadership skills. To me he’s the unquesitoned leader in the special teams group.” I’ll have more on him in Wednesday’s notebook.
*********Practice on Wednesay again will begin at 4 p.m.