Mora leads Bruins through first practice
"Times New Roman";mso-bidi-theme-font:minor-bidi">LOS ANGELES — Jim Mora was back on the practice field coaching for the first time in nearly
two and a half years. On Tuesday, he led UCLA through practice for the first
time as the Bruins head coach in front of large crowd at Spaulding Field as the
team kicked off spring practice.
Since taking over as the top Bruin, Mora said he wanted to emphasize tempo and
physicality. He received both on Tuesday.
It was a lot different from what had occurred at UCLA practices in recent
memory. It was an accelerated tempo in which some players expressed verbally
and non-verbally how fatigued they were.
Mora made it clear, expressing to players the need for a sense of urgency and
not to "saunter around" the football field.
"It was the first day. I thought the tempo got better as the
practice went along," Mora said. "(On) Thursday when you come out
here, it'll be a much different practice. They'll understand how we want to
operate, how we want them to move from drill to drill. You saw me bring them
back a couple of times when they didn't run the way I wanted them to run (and)
things like that, but they're very, very willing."
The new Bruins coaching staff emphasized sprinting from drill to drill and for
players to sprint in and out of reps.
"(Offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone told) everybody that they're going to
be exhausted, but that's part of this team's new mentality," quarterback
Kevin Prince said. "We just got to be tougher to push through it and not
worry about it and so we'll develop that."
For Prince, it was enjoyable to be able to get off plays at an accelerated pace.
"It's not a completely new concept to us, but doing it the whole practice
was fun," Prince said. "It felt like a game, being able to just go. We
called a play, substituted, got a new play and we were just going."
Practice took on the physical nature of an intense rivalry at times, with a
number of what Mora calls "scuffles" breaking out during team
Although the players weren't in pads, it was as physical a practice the Bruins
had endured in quite some time.
"A lot of people were playing like they were in pads," said offensive
lineman Xavier Su'a-Filo, who participated in his first practice since
returning from a two-year LDS Mission.
The "scuffles" were not in line with Mora's plans of being physical
and something he said he would address with the team. Aside from that, there
were some things he liked in his first practice as the Bruins head coach.
"We're off to a good start," Mora said. "A lot of enthusiasm. A
lot of good things. A lot of things we have to correct, obviously, but it's a
start and I was pleased with their effort. I'm pleased with their attitude, but
like I told them, we've got a million, million miles to go to become the
football team that we will become, need to become, and the desire to become