UCLA football players sit in tubs filled with ice water to get some relief… (Gina Ferazzi )
The pitch throughout UCLA's practice Monday was simple: When the Bruins get to Houston, they don't want to have a problem.
Players knew training camp at Cal State San Bernardino was going to be hot. Some joked the first two days of training camp about it not being as bad as their hometowns in Arizona, Hawaii, Maryland, central California.
Then came Monday. The first day in shoulder pads. The first day of triple-digit heat.
The sales pitch from Coach Jim Mora was that this was going to get the Bruins ready for their season opener at Rice Aug. 30.
The price? Six players left practice because of weather-related conditions: Patrick Larimore, Brett Downey, Simon Goines, Greg Capella and Tre Hale because of hydration concerns and Kenny Walker because of an asthma attack.
Larimore, Hale and Goines were taken to the training room for IVs.
Said quarterback Kevin Prince: "It was tiring for the quarterbacks, but those guys running around — the defensive backs, running backs and the big boys up front — were huffing and puffing."
But, he was ready to quote from the playbook.
"At the end of the day it will be good for us. It will get us ready to play Rice," Prince said.
That was the rally cry from the start, with Mora shouting, "When we get to Houston, and it's 95, it's going to feel like an icebox."
The Bruins did have numerous water breaks. Mora also had players work without helmets and shoulder pads during the last drill.
"We're doing all the right things," Mora said. "We have anticipated this, but when you get in this environment, some of those bigger guys are going to have problems."
Cassius Marsh and Eric Kendricks sat out Sunday's practice because of hydration concerns from the night before. Brandon Willis and Joseph Fauria left practice Sunday for the same reason. Monday started without safety Tevin McDonald, who was feeling dehydration effects Sunday night.
"We have a protocol in the evening," Mora said. "If there is any question at all, we hold them out."
By practice time Monday, the National Weather Service had issued a warning for the Inland Empire that, "the weather could be deadly for unprepared campers and hikers."
By mid-practice, the Bruins had lost three offensive linemen — Downey, Hale and Goines.
"You know what the weather was in Houston at kickoff time? Worse than this," Mora said. "We're going to have to play in this Aug. 30, unless they schedule the game in the Astrodome.... I'd rather they be a little shocked tomorrow and adjust than shocked on Aug. 30 and get beat."
Getting his kicks
Freshman kicker Ka'imi Fairbairn finally got to show off his leg Monday.
Fairbairn's first kick, from 22 yards, hit the upright. He connected on his next four, from 22, 22, 28 and 32 yards, before having a 42-yard attempt blocked.
"That was the first time in front of the team, so I was a little anxious," said Fairbairn, who is from Kailua, Hawaii.
Not that the kid can't handle pressure. One of his hobbies is octopus hunting. Yes, octopus.
Said Fairbairn: "You put a stick in the hole where the octopus lives and it comes out really fast. He shoots his ink, you grab him, he suction cups your arms and you hook him into the bag. It's pretty fun."
Defensive end Sam Tai will miss the season after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee Sunday.... Marsh and Fauria suffered what appeared to be minor injuries to their left hands.... Shaquelle Evans, Jordon James, Steven Manfro and Fabian Moreau got the first tryout as punt returners.