Looks like Jeff Baca will be starting for UCLA on Saturday against San Diego State.
Only not at right tackle, but left guard.
Rick Neuheisel confirmed it in his press conference on Monday.
Stanley Hasiak will play, though.
Practice ended with a spirited run-through, with players seeming very eager for Saturday to come quickly.
The Bosworths were back on the field, Jeff Baca was primarily running with the first team at left guard and Tony Dye appears to have separated himself at strong safety.
I spoke with several players about the air-quality issue, and they are very anxious to play. They do not want to see this game postponed…
Mike Harris is confident that he has earned the starting right tackle position, even though things did not begin to materialize for him until just a few days ago.
“I feel like it’s my spot, and I’m going to do whatever it takes. Last year, I was a freshman, new at things, but I feel prepared for this upcoming season. I’m excited and ready to get this offense rolling again. I think it was my whole body of work; I was injured in spring ball, but I came ready in this summer camp. Every day I went hard, and the coaches saw that they can count on me.”
Harris, who started five games last season, believes his familiarity gives him the edge over some of UCLA’s younger players, though he is potentially unseating Jeff Baca, who started eight games last season.
“I think my experience is a big factor. I know what to expect, especially starting against USC last year. I know what it takes to be successful. It will take a lot of hard work and a lot of limiting mental errors.”
After announcing the starting offensive line earlier this week, it seems UCLA has changed things a bit.
As it stands, Mike Harris is scheduled to start at right tackle, Stanley Hasiak at left guard and Jeff Baca backing both up.
Or, at least, that’s the plan going into the weekend’s meetings.
Offensive line coach Bob Palcic said that he and Rick Neuheisel would review the scrimmage tape and start the two who played best.
“I’m going to make one final meeting with Coach Neuheisel to see which direction we’re going,” Palcic said. “Harris or Baca at tackle and Baca or Hasiak at left guard. We’ll make the decision this weekend. We wanted to give them all an opportunity. That was the purpose of the scrimmage, and it’s whoever played best in the scrimmage. I gave them all work with the ones, and whoever played best in the scrimmage will start next Saturday.”
Palcic loves Baca’s ability to play multiple positions, and he might even use Baca situationally.
“I think I have the luxury of moving a couple people around,” Palcic said. “Baca can play both positions, and I even work with him in the center/QB exchange. I like my guys to have two positions, because that’s what I’m used to in the NFL. ”
The players were indeed thankful for the reprieve from full gear, as it was sweltering. Rick Neuheisel had sympathy for his guys, particularly as practice went long by almost a half hour.
However, with the season opener only nine days away, UCLA understands it needs as much preparation as it can get.
I spoke with Norm Chow, Rick Neuheisel, Jeff Baca, Johnathan Franklin and a special guest. Stay tuned.
Pardon the awful pun, but here’s what Jeff Baca had to say about…
On his new role as teacher/student:
“It’s not like I know exactly what’s going on – I’ve only had one season and that was eight games. It’s not that it’s brand new, but I learn stuff every day. I’m basically relearning with these young guys so I can teach them again. I want to be more of a teacher this year than a student.”
On offensive line leadership:
“Kai and I are the only ones who have college-game experience, and we are, I guess, looked up to. We’ve been there already, we know what it’s like. We’re hopefully the two leaders in the O-line this year.”
“We have a lot of faith in each other and in ourselves, too. We give ourselves credit; we’ve been through a lot together with this camp.”
On five fingers:
“If all five guys are doing their jobs, it’s a fist. You don’t know how this team can be until we start playing some games. Nobody can put a number on their season. Everybody can be optimistic and excited, but how can you put a number on something that hasn’t happened yet.”
On high school two-a-days and the end of UCLA’s session:
“Being an offensive lineman I don’t like to run. I personally like college two-a-days a lot better. I like this, I really do. You get to play football. We’re lucky and we don’t have class right now. We’re just playing football, two times a day. What more can you ask for”
Just finished up my print story so the next couple hours will be devoted to you guys. A lively practice concluded with a little skirmish between Reggie Carter and Stanley Hasiak, but it quickly dissipated.
I chatted with Rick Neuheisel, Bob Palcic, Logan Paulsen, Jeff Baca and Carter.
Stay tuned, and thanks.
UCLA confirmed its starters on the offensive line as follows…
Left Tackle: Freshman Xavier Su’a-Filo
Left Guard: Freshman Stanley Hasiak
Center: Sophomore Kai Maiava
Right Guard: Junior Eddie Williams
Right Tackle: Sophomore Jeff Baca
Your analysis is welcomed, and I will do my best to provide answers…