*UCLA coach Jim Mora loosened his grip when speaking to reporters after Tuesday’s practice. As you can see in the video above, Mora gave us a few updates on a few players. WR Javon Williams has not been cleared yet by the NCAA Clearinghouse and Mora said Williams won’t be traveling to Houston if he’s not cleared by the end of the day. Mora also said that Y receiver Ian Taubler won’t be making the trip. “His ankle is just not quite right yet,” Mora said. “Being that he’s a freshman we want to make sure he’s right and has practice before we take him to one of these games.”
**Mora also said Kevin McReynolds’ move to the offensive line is now official. McReynolds, who was a nose tackle and wore No. 77, will now wear No. 50. “He’ll be a guard but he’s still an emergency defensive lineman as well,” Mora said.
***UCLA will come out to Spaulding Field on Wednesday morning and get some field preparation work done before flying out to Houston. “We have a number of meetings to go but most of the heavy duty lifting is done,” Mora said. “Tomorrow we’ll just come out here, brush up on some things and then get on a plane and go to Houston.” UCLA will not have a walk-through at Rice upon arrival. Mora said the team will, however, walk through it. “You know what, it’s a stadium none of these guys have ever been to before,” he said. “(We’ll) get a feel for the locker room, how it’s laid out, walk the tunnel out to the field, walk around the field so the first time we see it isn’t when we get there on Thursday.”
****It’s supposed to be 95 degrees Thursday in Houston with 57 percent humidity and a 50 percent chance of rain with a forecast calling for scattered thunderstorms. As you know UCLA spent two weeks in San Bernardino where temperatures reached triple digits for almost the entire stay. “You can prepare for the heat but the humidity is a different story,” Mora said. “That humidity is a different animal. But once again it’s like we talked about the rain, we can’t control the environment so we’re not going to worry about it. We’ll plan for it and prepare for it but we’re not going to worry about it. It’s just a matter of hydrating and not waiting too long to hydrate.”
*****Thursday’s game will be a first for Mora as a college coach. Mora said he’ll be fine but elaborated, saying “I’m anxious like i’m always anxious. It’s going to be my firs time going out there in a UCLA shirt and hat in a competitive environment. These guys guys haven’t been in a competitive environment in over eight months since the bowl game. I’m more than anything excited watching our guys do what they do, which play football.”