Schedule lines up to honor David Quessenberry’s battle with cancer

UCLA’s matchup with Colorado on Saturday couldn’t be better timed as far as Buffaloes coach Mike MacIntyre is concerned. It falls on the same weekend as San Jose State’s game at Navy, creating a confluence of the four teams with strong ties to Houston Texans second-year offensive lineman David Quessenberry.

Quessenberry, who was diagnosed with lymphoma over the summer, will be honored when all four teams wear stickers with his initials on their helmets, including Quessenberry’s two younger brothers.

UCLA starting right guard Scott Quessenberry and Navy defensive end Paul Quessenberry are just two of the people involved in the pair of games that have relationships with the 24-year-old David. MacIntyre, in his second season at Colorado, was the head coach at San Jose State when David Quessenberry arrived as a walk-on tight end before transforming into a 2013 sixth-round draft pick.

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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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Scott Quessenberry to UCLA defense: ‘Thanks for cleaning up our mess’

UCLA made a bit of history during Saturday’s 28-20 win at Virginia. In the second quarter on Saturday, cornerback Ishmael Adams and linebacker Eric Kendricks returned interceptions for touchdowns, while safety Randall Goforth took a fumble back 75 yards for the score.

It was the Bruins’ first game with three defensive touchdowns since 1986, when they hit the trifecta in a 49-0 win over Oregon State. Perhaps no one was more thankful than UCLA’s offensive line. The unit looked awful without center Jake Brendel (knee), committing numerous penalties and allowing five sacks.

“I was telling the guys — Eric, Ish, RG — the three guys that scored, ‘Thanks for cleaning up our mess,’” said sophomore Scott Quessenberry, who replaced Brendel in the starting lineup. “Especially us up front, we didn’t play our game today. They really stepped it up for us.”

RELATED:
– UCLA’s offense was far from championship-caliber in a 28-20 win over Virginia. Coordinator Noel Mazzone: “I’m hoping we got it all out of our system.”
– The Bruins’ defensive front shined despite not notching any sacks.

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UCLA notes: Starting center Jake Brendel’s knee injury likely not serious

» UCLA lost a number of players to injury on Monday night, but none more important than center Jake Brendel. The third-year starter hurt his left knee/leg late in the two-hour practice, and was examined on a table before being carted to the locker room.

Brendel wasn’t limping heavily when he was helped off the field, and the preliminary examination indicated that the injury wasn’t serious.

“Hopefully, he doesn’t need anything more than a day or two, but we’ll see,” said head coach Jim Mora.

Backup center/guard Scott Quessenberry also left practice with what may have been heat exhaustion or dehydration. Safety Randall Goforth aggravated a left shoulder injury, but that also isn’t expected to be serious. Cornerback Marcus Rios was sidelined with a headache, but wasn’t hit in the head.

Freshman linebacker Zach Whitley — who performed well in spring camp — has a concussion and wore a neck brace last week; his return date is uncertain.

» Mora wasn’t happy with how the Bruins began the second part of their two-a-day, and made them restart the Monday night practice roughly 15 minutes in. Later, he sent running back Craig Lee to the locker room. Continue reading

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UCLA notes: Quarterback Brett Hundley comments on O’Bannon ruling

» UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley talked about the offense’s progress so far into training camp. Active in the National College Players Association, the junior also commented on the recent ruling in O’Bannon v. NCAA — one that could dramatically change college athletics (2:30 mark in the video above).

Although the NCAA intends to appeal, judge Claudia Wilken ruled that student-athletes could be paid up to $5,000 per year.

“It’s nice to have the athletes coming after me to be able to live a little more comfortably than we all did,” Hundley said.

» Crossing the halfway point of training camp in San Bernardino, tensions between the Bruins rose a bit on Monday morning. Continue reading

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UCLA lineman Scott Quessenberry’s brother David diagnosed with lymphoma

Houston Texans right tackle David Quessenberry was diagnosed with lymphoma on Tuesday at age 23, a week after entering the hospital with coughing and fatigue.

The former sixth-round pick is the eldest brother of Scott Quessenberry, who started six games at left guard for UCLA as a true freshman last season. Another brother, Paul, is a defensive end at Navy.

From the Houston Chronicle:

“My fight has just begun,” Quessenberry tweeted Tuesday. “As long as I have breath in my lungs, I will fight this disease and I will win.”

Two oncology experts said Quessenberry faces a high-grade, life-threatening form of cancer that requires immediate treatment. He’s expected to face months of chemotherapy during a process that could last years. The many forms of lymphoma and multiple recovery scenarios make Quessenberry’s future health status difficult to predict. But his high “performance data,” including youth and excellent physical shape, should work in his favor if treatment goes well

“It’s a rapidly growing lymphoma. … But the tumors that grow most rapidly are usually the ones most sensitive to chemotherapy,” said Dr. Martha Mims, chief of hematology and oncology at Baylor College of Medicine.

Best wishes go out to the Quessenberry family.

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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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Offensive lineman Xavier Su’a-Filo declares for NFL draft

UCLA’s most talented offensive lineman is heading to the pros.

In a decision that even he acknowledged was widely “suspected,” junior Xavier Su’a-Filo announced on Twitter that he will declare for the 2014 NFL draft. Already 23 years old, his eligibility was pushed back by a two-year Mormon mission.

Winner of the Morris Trophy for Pac-12′s top offensive lineman, the 6-foot-3, 304 pound Utah native manned both left guard and left tackle for the Bruins this season. He will play the former as a pro, but moved to the outside halfway through the season due to numerous injuries. Continue reading

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VIDEO: Adrian Klemm talks Xavier Su’a-Filo’s draft decision, state of offensive line

– Bowl practices have become almost like an extra training camp, which helps an offensive line that has been juggled around through the season. Individual sessions have been bumped up from 10 minutes to about 30 minutes per practice.

– Judging from what offensive line coach Adrian Klemm said Friday, junior guard Xavier Su’a-Filo could likely be on an NFL roster this time next year. The All-American is still waiting for his evaluation to come back from the NFL draft advisory board to help him decide whether or not to declare early.

“He knows what I think about it,” the assistant coach said. “You come here to have success after you’re done here. If that’s one year earlier, he needs to go ahead and do that. I don’t want to hold him back from it. I want to see him do well. …

“There’s not much more he can accomplish in terms of accolades. He can sharpen up some things, but if he comes out and he’s the first or second guard taken, I think it’s a no-brainer.” 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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