With a wildfire burning nearby and temperatures again reaching triple digits, UCLA coaches turned up the heat in San Bernardino.
The team again practiced in lighter spider pads, but Wednesday morning's session was the most intense of fall camp up to this point. Tempers flared, as starting defensive end Takkarist McKinley was ejected for throwing a punch at Kolton Miller, who was also sent off. McKinley, who had actually just recorded a phantom sack on the play, tossed his own helmet a good 30 yards off the field before being escorted away still fuming.
In an obvious attempt to try to ignite the offense during game-like situations and the two-minute drill, head coach Jim Mora was as animated as he has been in camp and a couple times threatened to start practice over. After newcomer Caleb Wilson failed to get back to the huddle in a timely manner, Mora yelled, "You can't (expletive) do that here! ... You're not at 'SC anymore!"
Earlier, when the offense was slow in setting up a play while looking toward the sideline for directions, Mora blew the whistle and called a delay of game on Mike Fafaul.
"I've never before seen that in my life," Mora yelled.
The Bruins have been huddling a lot more than they had before under Mora, so practices have generally been slower dating back to spring. But there was certainly an emphasis on picking up the pace and urgency Wednesday.
The quarterbacks didn't have a particularly sharp practice, as they were rushed into throws by the pressure up front and failed to find their timing. Josh Rosen fared better late, hitting Darren Andrews for touchdowns on back-to-back plays near the goal line, but even he felt Mora's wrath when he lobbed a pass deep in an effort to escape pressure. Jaleel Wadood ended up intercepting the careless throw, and Mora unleashed a few choice words in the direction of his start quarterback.
With the team not in full pads, the defense again seemed to have an edge in the trenches. McKinley had been thriving prior to his ejection, Eddie Vanderdoes was disruptive alongside Eli Ankou, and second-unit defensive end Keisean Lucier-South recorded a handful of sacks.
The coverage down field certainly helped, too. Walk-on quarterback Charles Dawson had two interceptions -- the first on Fafaul, whose timing appeared to be off all morning, and the second on Devon Modster, who underthrew a fade route to fellow freshman Adewale Omotosho in the end zone.
Linebacker Cameron Judge made a heads-up play on a ball that Jordan Lasley bobbled after contact up the middle with Will Lockett. That was the final play of practice. Josh Woods also covered very well with the second unit and eliminated passing lanes near the goal line, tracking tight ends in and out of their breaks.
With Miller ejected, Andre James took reps with the ones at right tackle. There were some bright spots after that scuffle, as Rosen did well to move the ball down field. On one play in which the line picked up blitzes from Jayon Brown and Kenny Young, Rosen took off and slid to pick up a first down. Then he made a couple good decisions on throws to Eldridge Massington and Nate Iese to set up the offense for a field-goal attempt, which J.J. Molson sank from 35 yards out.
Rosen also had a nice drive during 7-on-7 where he found Ishmael Adams on an underneath route and later hit Austin Roberts on a skinny post that went for a big gain. He also found Adams again in the back of the end zone for a score.
Massington was treated for heat exhaustion following practice, while Theo Howard, who had been nursing a hamstring injury for a week until his return to action Tuesday, didn't participate Wednesday.
Defensive coordinator Tom Bradley told reporters he did not have a timeframe for the return of Deon Hollins, who suffered a head injury last week.