UCLA offensive line likely to start three true freshmen

With three days left until a visit from UCLA, No. 2 Oregon’s defense may already be salivating.

Two weeks ago, the No. 12 Bruins started two true freshmen on the offensive line for the first time in school history. This Wednesday, Bruins offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone said true freshman Scott Quessenberry will likely join the mix at left guard.

Primarily a center, Quessenberry played some guard in fall camp, but was redshirting this season until the line’s recent rash of injuries. He has practiced there this week after the loss of left tackle Simon Goines, who injured his MCL in a 24-10 loss at Stanford. Protecting quarterback Brett Hundley’s blind side now falls to All-American Xavier Su’a-Filo, who shifts over from left guard.

Quessenberry had moved to the No. 2 center spot behind Jake Brendel earlier this month, but coaches and teammates said he has picked up the game quickly. His brother, David, was drafted by the Houston Texans this April — taken in the sixth round after becoming an All-WAC offensive tackle at San Jose State.

“He’s from kind of a football family,” Mazzone said. “I think he’s really excited. I don’t think he’s worried. I think he’s excited about the opportunity he’s getting. Fundamentally, yeah, is he a little bit behind? He hasn’t had the work those other guys have. Hasn’t had the game experience.”

“He’s a real sharp kid,” Su’a-Filo said. “As soon as it happens, he catches himself doing it. I don’t really have to say much to him. I just kind of give him a look, and he goes, ‘Yeah, I know, I know.'”

Offensive line coach Adrian Klemm — already breaking in first-years Alex Redmond and Caleb Benenoch on the right side — had been hesitant to move Su’a-Filo to left tackle barring a worst-case scenario. UCLA lost its first starting tackle when Torian White broke his ankle at Utah on Oct. 3, but shifting Su’a-Filo out of left guard would have limited the Bruins’ run blocking. Goines’ injury forced the team’s hand.

For what it’s worth, Mazzone didn’t think youth would significantly affect his playbook.

“Maybe it cuts down on volume,” he said. “We’re not going to change. We are what we are. Maybe we cut down on volume.”