There was actually offense in the UCLA offense Friday, the first day the team was in full pads.
On the fourth play of the first 11-on-11 scrimmage, the offensive line opened up a hole that you could drive a truck through and tailback Derrick Coleman blew through it on his way to a long touchdown run.
This was just one day, and defensive tackle Brian Price said, "We'll come out tomorrow with a vengeance."
But Friday the offensive line did what it could not do a year ago -- open holes and pass-protect.
This was a big leap for a team that finished 116th in yards rushing per game out of 119 major-college teams. The Bruins gained only 993 yards rushing as a team, the first time they finished below 1,000 yards since 1963.
"The truth is the truth," tackle Jeff Baca said. "We were a 4-8 team, we were 116th in rushing, facts are facts."
But, Baca said, "The chemistry is better this year. We are a better line."
That still remains to be seen in games. But the size and speed have been improved. On Friday, the offense parlayed that into some big runs and deep passes -- two things absent in 2008.
"They are trying get their swagger back as a unit," Price said.
Price has already tasted that swagger. He had a post-play exchange with guard Stanley Hasiak earlier in the week, with the freshman getting in an elbow at the end.
"You like to see that," defensive end Korey Bosworth said. "They have some fight." He then smiled, and added, "you can do that . . . once."
Young and restless
The new, and seemingly improved, line included two true freshmen on the first unit, tackle Xavier Su'a-Filo and Hasiak. They joined center Kai Maiava, a transfer from Colorado, guard Eddie Williams, a transfer from Mt. San Antonio College, and Baca
That, in part, was so Su'a-Filo and Hasiak could get more reps, according to Coach Rick Neuheisel.
But offensive line coach Bob Palcic said it was not a stretch to think both could win a starting job.
"I have started freshmen before but never in the opening game," Palcic said. "I'm not opposed to it. If they deserve it and earn it, they'll be the starter."
Palcic said, "We'll give these young guys a real good look for a 10-day period and then I'm going to make a decision. When I make that decision, then that is the final answer for the season opener."
And how will Palcic know the young players are ready?
"We have one of the better defenses in the [Pacific 10 Conference]," he said. "If I see they're having success against our defense, then I know they're ready."
School looks for national game
UCLA and Rutgers were in negotiations to play in the 2010 season opener at Giants Stadium, but the deal crumbled when Kansas State decided to remain on the Bruins' 2010 schedule. UCLA opens in Manhattan, Kan., next season.
UCLA officials are exploring moving another game to the season opener for a national broadcast.
Quarterback Kevin Craft (sore throat and fever), wide receiver Randall Carroll (groin), wide receiver Nelson Rosario (ankle) and safety Stan McKay (dislocated finger) sat out drills Friday.
Ryan Moya (knee) missed a third day of practice and is not expected back until Monday.