Lineman Caleb Benenoch reflects on freshman growing pains

Caleb Benenoch didn’t get a chance to ease into his freshman season.

Originally in line to start at right guard, he lost the competition to fellow first-year Alex Redmond shortly before UCLA’s 2013 season opener. Four games in, however, he got his chance — albeit at a separate position.

Starting tackle Torian White broke a bone in his lower leg in an Oct. 3 win at Utah, opening a spot in the staring lineup for the 6-foot-5 Benenoch. The toughest part of his adjustment, Benenoch said this week, was keeping up with the speed of the game and refining his technique. He needed another four games or so to get comfortable with the pace. Continue reading

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UCLA post-spring position outlook: Offensive line

Spring football is done, and over three months still stand between us and the start of UCLA’s third season under Jim Mora — one that comes with national title aspirations and accompanying media glare. Over the next week, this blog will cover each of the Bruins’ position groups. Next up …

Offensive line

UCLA is facing life without left guard Xavier Su’a-Filo, set to become the school’s highest-drafted offensive lineman since Kris Farris went to the Pittsburgh Steelers as a third-round pick in 1999. And yet, the Bruins aren’t in bad shape without the man they voted their offensive MVP, one who earned the conference’s Morris Trophy as well as All-American nods.

No returning lineman is as versatile or mobile as Su’a-Filo, and not having a dynamic pulling guard will likely impact the Bruins’ running game. What should balance out his absence is a unit that is deeper and more experienced that it was a year ago — a continuing reclamation project sparked by 2013′s stud signing class. Continue reading

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Bruins could stick with three true freshmen on offensive line

Those three true freshmen on UCLA’s offensive line might stay there all season.

Assistant coach Adrian Klemm said Wednesday that if his current front five continues to perform, he could consider sticking with what is now his third starting lineup. Injuries have forced the fluidity: starting left tackle Simon Goines, who has a history of knee problems, is still limping with an injured right MCL; backup Conor McDermott (shoulder) is also sidelined.

“I want to have continuity, but at the same time, I don’t think a guy loses his position to injury,” Klemm said. “If we’re rolling and things are good, we have cohesiveness and we’re playing well, I don’t see any reason to shake it up. Continue reading

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VIDEO: Jim Mora talks UCLA’s offensive line


– UCLA coach Jim Mora played it coy Thursday when asked about his starting offensive line, hinting that left tackle Simon Goines (MCL) could still be available at Oregon on Saturday. The sophomore did not practice Thurday, nor did senior Y-receiver Darius Bell.

– Though Mora didn’t talk about the likelihood of starting three true freshmen on his line, he said that the position was “without a doubt” the most difficult for a first-year player. A less-than-stellar offensive line is difficult to hide schematically, and freshmen must also account for defenses that can shift right before a snap. Continue reading

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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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Notes and quotes: UCLA 37, Cal 10

UCLA hardly looked unstoppable in its 37-10 win over Cal Saturday, but it did enough to earn its place as a top-10 team.

Some notes from the night:

– The defense held Cal to a season-low 320 offensive yards. The Bears’ 10 points were the lowest of Sonny Dykes’ (relatively short) head coaching career. If not for some untimely penalties, the Bruins might have kept Cal out of the end zone entirely.

The front seven continued its run as one of the conference’s best, sacking true freshman quarterback Jared Goff three times and coming up with clutch stops. Safety Randall Goforth had an interception, while cornerbacks Ishmael Adams and Fabian Moreau combined for three pass breakups. Continue reading

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Caleb Benenoch: O-line confident, mistakes fixable


True freshman Caleb Benenoch entered Utah’s Rice-Eccles Stadium last Thursday, thrown into his first significant action of his career after a season-ending ankle injury to tackle Torian White. After watching film of the 34-27 win, he seemed optimistic if not enthused.

“We can do a lot better,” Benenoch said. “We worked to clean up a lot of our mistakes this week. We had a lot of communication errors. Stuff that can get fixed. We’re confident going into the Berkeley game.” 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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