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UCLA FYI

Bruins looking at new combinations up front

October 15, 2008|Chris Foster | Times Staff Writer

UCLA will look at another offensive line combination, its fourth in seven weeks, as the unit's personnel was rearranged Tuesday.

Nick Ekbatani moved to right guard, with his right tackle spot being filled by Micah Kia, who lost his right tackle job three weeks ago. Scott Glicksberg and Darius Savage split time at left guard.

The Bruins have averaged 2.0 yards rushing a carry the last two weeks. They also gave up six sacks against Oregon last Saturday. Although not all of that can be blamed on the offensive line, a change seemed to be needed.

This is yet another offensive line shift for Ekbatani, who has played guard, center, guard and tackle since spring ball. The move back to guard will require a different approach.

"I've got to slow down a little bit," said Ekbatani, a junior. "I'm so used to trying to get the edge at tackle. At guard, if I do that I'll over-reach. The defensive tackle will just stop and I'll fall down.

"I'll be all right. I felt comfortable, a little rusty, but comfortable."

Kia, too, has to shake loose the cobwebs. He started the first three games at left tackle, then lost his job to freshman Jeff Baca. Kia started eight games last season at tackle but lost his job.

"I wanted to give him another opportunity," said Bob Palcic, UCLA's offensive line coach. "He has been working hard in practice, and he does have some experience. I want these kids to know that if I sit you down, it's not over, but you have work hard to earn the right to start again. That's how the system works."

Olson in uniform

Quarterback Ben Olson was back in pads Tuesday for the first time since breaking a bone in his right foot on Aug. 9. He might return to drills in practice during the Bruins' off week at the end of October, although whether he can regain the No. 1 job he had at the time of the injury was an unanswered question.

"A lot depends on where we are at that time," Coach Rick Neuheisel said. "It would be ridiculous for me to make a statement now as to what I'm going to do until I know all the facts.

"I don't have any problem with Ben coming back and being our quarterback. If he is our best quarterback, we would like him to play."

That's too far ahead for Olson to think about as well. After twice breaking the same bone in his foot, plus suffering two knee injuries and a concussion in the last year, Olson said, "I just want to get healthy. Every single time I have been hurt, I always thought I was going to be back by a particular date and it didn't happen. I'm just trying to listen to my body."

Odds and ends

Junior wide receiver Terrence Austin, who suffered a strained neck and a concussion against Oregon last Saturday night, did not suit up for practice and is questionable for Saturday's game against Stanford. Even if he plays, Austin probably will not return punts and kickoffs. Ryan Graves is expected to fill those roles.

Freshman quarterback Nick Crissman had three pins placed in his right shoulder to reattach his labrum on Friday. Crissman, who was injured during training camp, will wear a sling for eight weeks, but said he should be ready for spring practice.

Defensive tackle Chase Moline injured his back during a Tuesday morning weightlifting session and did not practice. Defensive end Tom Blake also sat out practice because of an abdominal strain. No timetable was set for his return.

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chris.foster@latimes.com

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