UCLA Coach Jim Mora understands knows his players are ready for the heat.… (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles…)
UCLA's football team spent two sweltering weeks in San Bernardino this month, toiling through a football camp while the temperature hovered in triple-digit territory.
At the time, players said they believed the heat would prepare them for Houston, the site of the Bruins' season opener Thursday night against Rice. Coach Jim Mora even said, "When we get to Houston and it's 95 it's going to feel like an icebox."
Actually, more like a sauna.
As with any Dixie state in August, it's not just the heat but the humidity.
"You can prepare for the heat, but the humidity is a different story," Mora acknowledged after practice Tuesday.
The forecast for Houston on Thursday, according to weather.com: a high of 95 degrees with 57% humidity and showers early with scattered thunderstorms later in the day. (Kickoff is at 6:30 p.m. CDT). Chance of rain: 50%.
Hurricane Isaac made landfall Tuesday along Louisiana's southeastern coast, so the forecast for Houston could change in the coming days. And Rice's football stadium is open.
Mora said the Bruins won't worry about what they can't control. "We're going to plan for it, we're going to prepare for it, but we're not going to worry about it," he said of the weather.
UCLA also visited Houston for its opener last season, losing to the University of Houston, 38-34, as Cougars quarterback Case Keenum passed for 310 yards and two touchdowns.
UCLA gave up 469 yards, and the Bruins defense is hoping to make a better impression this time.
"We're seeing it as that, a new opportunity to prove ourselves and to show that last year's defense was last year's defense," safety Dalton Hilliard said.
Added cornerback Aaron Hester: "We've got a new defense, new coach, we've got a new everything, so we're going to go in there and establish this new 2012 Bruins defense."
UCLA is scheduled to leave for Houston on Wednesday morning shortly after the team does one final on-field practice walk-through. . . . Redshirt freshman defensive lineman Kevin McReynolds will be moved to the offensive line, where he will be a guard and wear No. 50, Mora said.