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. Continue reading

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Noel Mazzone references children’s lit in describing freshman linemen


A few days after offensive line coach Adrian Klemm referenced Pokemon cards to describe Alex Redmond and Caleb Benenoch’s youth, another UCLA assistant found a useful cultural marker.

“They’re still on the ‘Green Eggs and Ham’ book right now,” Noel Mazzone said Thursday. “Dr. Seuss reading. We haven’t progressed enough.”

The Bruins’ offensive coordinator also talked about the need to eliminate “self-imposed wounds” — i.e. penalties — and to build consistency.

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Torian White’s injury unsettles UCLA offensive line

Through its first three games, UCLA’s offensive line had looked every part a resurgent unit — plowing lanes for an effective ground attack and keeping quarterback Brett Hundley on his feet. For the first time in a decade, the Bruins had both NFL-caliber talent and quality depth.

Also crucial was the chemistry, something both coaches and players said had improved vastly since an injury-plagued 2012 campaign. Early on this fall, the Bruins staff had emphasized building a consistent starting five.

Thursday night complicated those plans. In the second quarter of a 34-27 win at Utah, left tackle Torian White broke his right ankle. (UPDATE: White is officially out for the season with a break and slight ligament tear.) Continue reading

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UCLA offensive line earns promising reviews

As the first round of camera flashes dimmed Saturday, Brett Hundley pointed up and closed with these words: “Shoutout to the O-line.”

A year ago, a young patchworked UCLA line did little to keep Hundley from getting sacked 52 times — the highest total of any Pac-12 quarterback. The Bruins’ showing in a 58-20 home win over Nevada was close to a complete 180.

The star quarterback was one of many pleased parties. Almost every tailback credited the line for paving gaping holes. Head coach Jim Mora praised the unit for its pass protection. Even offensive line coach Adrian Klemm, who said he was a bit nervous heading into the game, knew his unit would be fine after two or three series. Continue reading

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UCLA’s list of possible concussions swells to seven

Head cases have beset the Bruins this August.

Whether exacerbated by the San Bernardino heat or simply a bit of bad luck, seven UCLA players were sidelined Tuesday with concussion-like symptoms — taking a large chunk of the offensive line.

“I don’t know why we seem to have this rash of head injuries,” Mora said. “I’m not sure how serious all of them are, but we’re going to treat them all as if they’re very serious.”

The line was without redshirt sophomores Kevin McReynolds and Ben Wysocki, as well as true freshmen Alex Redmond, Poasi Moala and John Lopez. Redmond and Wysocki were competing at right guard, while Moala had taken the majority of second-team snaps at right tackle.

The attrition shuffled what was gradually becoming a more stable line. In one first-team iteration, All-American Xavier Su’a-Filo moved from guard to left tackle, while backup center Carl Hulick slid to left guard.

“It kind of affects everything you do,” Mora said. “It affects the development of the depth. It affects our ability to practice the way we’d like to practice. We just have to modify it.”

Added Su’a-Filo: “When we have the luxury of numbers, we can run, one, two, three groups. With these concussions, we’ve just got to take more reps. We’ve got to make do with what we have.”

Defensive Ian Taubler and running back Malcolm Jones are also out with concussion-like symptoms.

OTHER INJURIES

Freshman defensive end Kylie Fitts suffered full-body cramps. Mora said he drank enough water afterward to gain 8.5 pounds. Junior linebacker Eric Kendricks has missed all team activities in fall camp recovering from an ankle procedure. He is expected to play in the Aug. 31 season opener, and may return to practice next week. Continue reading

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Right guard rotation key to improving UCLA’s offensive line


SAN BERNARDINO — After one of the worst practices he’d ever seen, Adrian Klemm was asked how comfortable he felt with his offensive line.

Frustrated, the UCLA assistant coach said he expected to start two or three true freshmen.

After the Bruins started preseason training camp in San Bernardino, Klemm clarified: He meant that two or three of his seven freshmen will compete for, not necessarily win, a spot.

“More often than not, they’re not as technically sound as you’d like them to be,” said Klemm, who was named Pac-12 Recruiter of the Year by both Rivals.com and Scout.com. “We have three or four of those guys that are physically close.

“We have probably three of them that have a long ways (to go) in terms of body composition. Two that came in pretty poor shape.” Continue reading

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Fall camp preview: Offensive line

With less than four weeks until the start of UCLA’s fall camp, let’s examine each of the Bruins’ position groups as they try and best last season’s 9-5 record — the program’s highest win total since 2005.

First, the offensive line, one of UCLA’s most problematic areas last season. A thin and relatively inexperienced unit, the Bruins’ line gave up 52 sacks and committed numerous penalties. After landing seven touted freshmen, it could be the most improved group on the roster.

Key returners: Continue reading

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Adrian Klemm expects at least two freshman starters on offensive line

Adrian Klemm didn’t mince words. What took place Thursday morning was the worst offensive line practice the position coach has seen at UCLA.

Done without pads due to the Bruins’ increasing injury count, the sloppy session neared closing time with a brutal sequence of penalties, dropped balls and even a safety.

Klemm has established himself as one of the nation’s elite recruiters, but reinforcements won’t arrive until fall. Right now, an offensive line that allowed 52 sacks last season still doesn’t have any stable anchors besides center Jake Brendel and All-American Xavier Su’a-Filo. Continue reading

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