Glenn Thompkins had spent time Wednesday morning with Marc Dove, who oversees defensive backs at UCLA. The topic was playing time, which Thompkins got none of against Washington State.
"He wanted to make sure I wasn't getting discouraged, that I wasn't getting down on myself or giving up," Thompkins said. "He told me to keep working hard."
A few hours later he was working with the first string.
Thompkins is the backup for free safety Shaun Williams, who suffered a sprained right ankle in Wednesday's practice and is doubtful for Saturday's game against Tennessee.
Thompkins started two games at the position last season when Williams was injured.
To provide additional depth, UCLA coaches are considering moving players around in the secondary, with freshman cornerback Marques Anderson, who played on special teams at Washington State, a likely candidate to get a crash course at playing safety.
Defensive end Darren Cline is also called doubtful for Saturday's game.
Sean Gully, who started at right guard at Washington State, missed practice because of a death in the family, and Coach Bob Toledo said the lost time will give freshman Brian Polak some playing time.
The Bruins wanted to redshirt Polak, a 320-pounder, but because of the loss of Oscar Cabrera to injury in preseason practice and the need for more depth up front, Polak is being accelerated onto the field.
The same is true of freshman wide receiver Brian Poli-Dixon, who will get time against Tennessee.