Center Jake Brendel, running back Paul Perkins start for UCLA

PASADENA >> Center Jake Brendel started his first game of the season on Saturday night, as UCLA opened its home schedule against Memphis.

The third-year starter sat out the Bruins’ season opener at Virginia with a sprained knee, his absence contributing to the offensive line’s dysfunction. With sophomore Scott Quessenberry making his first career start at center — not to mention true freshman NaJee Toran at right guard — the Bruins gave up five sacks and committed five false starts.

Brendel had started 27 straight contests before sitting out at Scott Stadium, making him the only center quarterback Brett Hundley had ever played behind during a game.

Against Memphis, Quessenberry replaced Toran at guard. He had started six games there as a true freshman after injuries to the offensive line.

Redshirt sophomore Paul Perkins started at running back for the first time this season, an unsurprising move given his performance in Week 1. Perkins led the team with 80 yards on 16 carries against the Cavaliers in Charlottesville, while then-starter Jordon James finished with three yards.

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VIDEO: Jim Mora updates status of injured UCLA offensive linemen

Head coach Jim Mora said that center Jake Brendel (knee) is a gametime decision for UCLA’s home opener against Memphis this Saturday, but hinted that tackle Simon Goines (ankle) might be out for a while longer. He also talked about the maturation of reserve lineman Ben Wysocki, who is a new husband and father.

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Jim Mora: Center Jake Brendel close to return from sprained knee

After missing his first start at UCLA, center Jake Brendel appears to be day-to-day in his recovery from a sprained knee.

Head coach Jim Mora said Sunday that Brendel was “very, very close” to returning to full action after injuring his MCL three weeks ago in training camp. The Bruins’ offensive line looked awful in Saturday’s 28-20 win at Virginia, and losing their most experienced lineman played a significant role.

Brendel dressed and warmed up at Scott Stadium, but sat on the bench while sophomore Scott Quessenberry took his place. The redshirt junior had started 27 straight games for UCLA over the last two seasons, giving Mora and his staff an anchor in the middle of the line.

“I didn’t realize that, until after the game yesterday, it was the first game since we’ve been here as a staff that Jake hasn’t been our starting center,” Mora said. “He’s a leader. He’s a great communicator. He’s got toughness. He’s got experience.” Continue reading

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Center Jake Brendel questionable for UCLA’s season opener

A UCLA offensive line that was projected to have experience and depth could be missing a crucial piece this weekend at Virginia.

Center Jake Brendel, a third-year starter, has been limited in practice since injuring his MCL two weeks ago during training camp at Cal State San Bernardino. The junior is a team co-captain who was named All-Pac-12 honorable mention last season.

Asked Tuesday about Brendel’s status for the Bruins’ 9 a.m. PT Saturday kickoff at Virginia, head coach Jim Mora said, “We’ll see.”

It’s a dramatic downgrade from the original diagnosis. Right after Brendel was carted off the field, Mora had expressed hope that the former Freshman All-American would only miss “a day or two.” Even last week, he sounded confident that Brendel would play.

If Brendel is unavailable, UCLA could move starting guard Alex Redmond to replace him. A Freshman All-American last year, Redmond has practiced a bit at center since Brendel’s injury. Backup center Scott Quessenberry could be an option if he recovers fully from a concussion suffered in training camp.

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Jim Mora announces UCLA’s six captains for 2014

» UCLA voted on team captains last Thursday, and Jim Mora announced the picks Tuesday morning. Not a lot of surprises: on offense, quarterback Brett Hundley and center Jake Brendel; on defense, linebacker Eric Kendricks and defensive end Owamagbe Odighizuwa; on special teams, linebacker Ryan Hofmeister and fullback Taylor Lagace.

» Mora was confident that Brendel, who is recovering from an MCL injury, will be ready to play in the Bruins’ Aug. 30 season opener at Virginia.

Cornerback Marcus Rios (migraines) is seeing a specialist today. He missed a number of practices in San Bernardino before returning late in the week for sideline work. Continue reading

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