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Palcic makes changes along offensive line

UCLA FYI

September 17, 2008|Chris Foster | Times Staff Writer

Freshman tackle Jeff Baca was taking repetitions with the first team. Freshman running back Derrick Coleman was getting repeated carries at tailback. Brandon Bennett settled in at right guard.

UCLA's practice Tuesday had the appearance of a casting call, as Bruins coaches responded to being blown out, 59-0, by Brigham Young by trying to shake up an offense that has produced two touchdowns in two games.

The biggest upheaval was on the offensive line, which has performed poorly through two games. The Bruins have the worst running attack in the nation, averaging 19 yards a game.

Bennett was at guard, replacing Sonny Tevaga, and Baca split time at tackle with Micah Kia.

"I'm not going to accept mediocrity," offensive line coach Bob Palcic said. "I will not accept it. I don't know how long it is going to take, but we will right this ship, through recruiting, junior college players, improving the players that we have. It will be accomplished. It's not going to be an overnight, easy task, but it will be done."

Baca, who was playing at Mission Viejo High last fall and has just returned from a knee injury, got a long look at tackle because of Kia's poor performance against Brigham Young.

"Coach told us, if you don't perform, then he was going to change things up," Kia said. "I made some mistakes during the game. That's just the way it is and I just have to accept it and work to get better."

Kia finished practice by working with the first team. Baca will get another chance today.

"Baca missed an awful lot of practice with his knee, so he was rusty today," Palcic said. "Prior to his injury, I thought he showed some things where he has a positive future here. We'll see how things go in practice tomorrow, then maybe he can see some time on Saturday."

The same can't be said for Tevaga, who took only a few reps, and all with the second team.

"I tell my players all the time that no one has a lock on a job around here," Palcic said. "If someone plays unsatisfactory in the game, I'm going to give someone else an opportunity."

If Bennett starts against Arizona, he will be the fifth player to make his offensive line debut this season. Baca would be the sixth.

Running on empty

Coleman received extra work as the Bruins are getting thinner at tailback. Raymond Carter (knee) and Aundre Dean (ankle) both sat out, while Kahlil Bell briefly tested his sprained left ankle. Coleman, a 218-pound back, returned from a knee injury last week.

Bell had a few carries at the start of practice, then received treatment on the ankle.

"There is going to be a certain amount of pain, but I think I'll be able to tolerate it," he said.

Coach Rick Neuheisel said Bell was "somewhere between doubtful and probable."

Odds and split ends

Freshman Kevin Prince has moved into the backup quarterback spot, replacing Chris Forcier, who ran the scout team.

Linebacker Kyle Bosworth sought a second opinion on his injured left knee, but was not expected to play this week.

--

chris.foster@latimes.com

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