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UCLA to go 'live' in spring football game

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There are two ways to look at UCLA's spring game.

There's the cleats-on-the-ground view: "We need to make sure we lock into everything," safety Anthony Jefferson said. "We need to make sure we're assignment perfect."

And there's a coach's big-canvas brush strokes: "I wouldn't put stock at all in the results of a spring game, who plays well and who doesn't," Coach Jim Mora said. "It's just a piece to the puzzle."

The Bruins wrap up spring practice with a scrimmage at the StubHub Center on Saturday at 5 p.m.

Mora said he wanted a "real game" and divided the teams along traditional lines — first-team offense against first-team defense, second-team offense against second-team defense.

But he will not attach any major significance to the day.

"I watched the Florida State spring game [on television] and it was so low-key," Mora said. "It didn't seem like it was that competitive, and that's the defending national champion."

The Bruins will be far from low-key. The game will be "live" except for kickoff and punt returns.

"I want it to be tough, physical and violent," Mora said. "I want everyone to stay healthy."

Mora will try to ensure that.

"I will help officials blow the whistle," the coach said. Mora, presumably, means anytime a defensive player gets within five yards of quarterback Brett Hundley, the key player in the Bruins' effort to win their first conference title since 1998, when the Pac-12 was still the Pacific 10.

Hundley will probably make a cameo appearance, playing a series or two before turning the first team over to Jerry Neuheisel. Hundley will then spend part of the scrimmage as the de facto offensive coordinator, calling plays.

"I've got my script all ready," Hundley said. "We're going to fling it."

Mora said that "every position is up for grabs," but it seems clear that many are already settled. The Bruins return 16 players who started at least six games last season. Any open position won't be decided by one scrimmage.

"This is another chance to evaluate our talent," Mora said.

Players see a little more to it.

"We want to have a pretty good spring game on both sides of the ball," Jefferson said. "So going off-season everyone will feel comfortable going into the season."

UCLA was 10-3 last season and is expected to be a top-10 team in the preseason rankings.

"This game will show us a lot," Hundley said.

Still, Mora said, "It is not about setting a tone."

chris.foster@latimes.com

Twitter: @cfosterlatimes

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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