Roughly 16 hours after he took a blow to the head, Anthony Barr walked back toward UCLA’s locker room.
Still recovering from an undisclosed injury, he swiped his entrance card and swung open the gray doors. A few dozen feet away, the Bruins’ Wednesday afternoon practice neared its end without him.
“He’s fine,” head coach Jim Mora said. “He’s doing great. He’s good.”
When asked if Barr — who vomited on Spaulding Field Tuesday night — had suffered a concussion, Mora stuck to the script: “He’s doing great.”
“That’s my standard answer. You can just keep asking, and I’ll just keep saying ‘He’s fine.’ … My job is to try and protect against our opponents getting information that can help them win. When it comes to who’s playing where and what strategic things we’re doing, it’s better I play it close to the vest.”
UCLA still has over a week until its Aug. 31 opener against Nevada, and another 14 days until it’s second game — a tough road trip to No. 18 Nebraska. Even if Barr continues to miss practices, he will likely have enough to recover and avoid missing significant game time.
Players could not provide any more information about the injury.
“I was just like, ‘Oh, I wonder how he’s doing’ and what really happened to him, because I don’t even know,” said freshman linebacker Isaako Savaiinaea. “We’ve seen him today, but he seemed good. Nothing wrong.”
After two weeks of camp work, UCLA eased into game prep for the Wolf Pack’s visit to the Rose Bowl next Saturday. Mora said he didn’t want to overload the Bruins with scout-team work yet, lest the drills start becoming “stale.”
Also a concern will be any increased nerves for UCLA, especially given the number of freshmen that will contribute from the team’s top-five recruiting class.
To alleviate that, coaches will run the players through a mock game timeline on Saturday. They will line up for buses by the campus’ Bruin Walk, eat a pre-game meal at Pasadena’s Langham hotel, then travel to the stadium for simulated game situations.
“We’re going to try and create that on Saturday night, so that when we come out against Nevada, we’ll be a tad more relaxed and used to the environment,” Mora said. “There’ll still be a heightened sense of anxiety, certainly.”
O CAPTAIN, MY CAPTAIN
UCLA announced its team captains Wednesday afternoon, a list consisting of three offensive players and three defensive.
There were the expected names: quarterback Brett Hundley, linebacker Anthony Barr, left guard Xavier Su’a-Filo. The latter two were All-Americans last season; the first is a rising star who was selected captain as a redshirt freshman until Mora vetoed the vote.
Linebacker Eric Kendricks, last year’s conference tackles leader, and center Jake Brendel filled out two more spots. The most surprising inclusion was former JUCO transfer Ryan Hofmeister, a junior linebacker has started just two games at UCLA. Hofmeister took the majority of first-team reps in spring and fall camp while Kendricks was sidelined with an ankle injury.
“That’s six guys that are certainly real representatives of what we’re looking for,” Mora said.
A rotation of special teams players will also serve as the seventh captain each week. Last season, UCLA had six captains, two each from the offense, defense and special teams.