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Line Plugged Into Cable

August 19, 2004|Lonnie White | Times Staff Writer

UCLA gained only 2.6 yards a run last season and lost 533 yards on plays that never made it beyond the line of scrimmage.

That's why Tom Cable, the team's new offensive coordinator and line coach, wants to turn the Bruins into one of the most physical lines in the Pacific 10 Conference.

"Coach Cable will play the five best players no matter the position or year," said junior tackle Ed Blanton, who started all 13 games last season. "I know that if I'm not one of the best five, I will not be in there."

Cable did not waste time shaking up the Bruins. Almost every lineman has had to learn more than one position because the coach wants them to be interchangeable.

"I was real uncomfortable at first," said Blanton, who played only on the right side last season, "but once you keep flip-flopping, your footwork gets better on both sides. I see now that by having us move around really helps us as a line."

Entering the Bruins' intra-squad scrimmage on Saturday, three spots on the line are set -- guard Steven Vieira and tackle Paul Mociler on the weakside and Blanton on the strongside. The other two are undecided. Mike McCloskey and Robert Chai are sharing time at center and Robert Cleary is pushing Eyoseph Efseaff at strongside guard.

"I look at this group like a bunch of hard hat guys who go to work every day," Cable said. "And through that work, I'm hoping that they start getting ornery enough to start [dominating opponents]."

UCLA's second-string line, which includes freshmen Shannon Tevaga, Brian Abraham and Chris Joseph, has struggled at times, but it also has shown improvement.


Senior receiver Tab Perry, who rejoined the team on Tuesday, practiced Wednesday morning and was impressive although he was not in full uniform because of NCAA rules. Perry is listed behind Craig Bragg at flanker, but will also play other receiver positions.

Defensive lineman C.J. Niusulu returned to practice after sitting out several practices because of post-concussion symptoms. Receiver Marcus Everett also returned but was kept out of contact drills because of post-concussion symptoms. Receiver Junior Taylor did not practice because of a hip injury and cornerback Jebiaus Brown sat out because of a sore neck.

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