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UCLA's offensive line tries to get physical

The Bruins' linemen stand their ground in practice Sunday and are working to change their reputation.

August 06, 2012|By Chris Foster, Los Angeles Times
  • UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley makes a pass to running back Paul Perkins during practice.
UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley makes a pass to running back Paul Perkins… (Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles…)

Tackle Brett Downey had to be pulled away from linebacker Jordan Zumwalt. Tackle Simon Goines went at it with Zumwalt. Downey was back for more, tangling with linebacker Nate Iese.

UCLA's offensive line was standing its ground during practice Sunday. A new look.

Even without pads, Bruins offensive linemen were trying to change their reputation.

"We're supposed to be the most physical guys on the team and we need to act like it," first-year line coach Adrian Klemm said.

This is the chore Klemm faces.

UCLA was once a regular stop for NFL scouts looking for offensive linemen. Now if they come to Westwood, it's for a good meal.

Kris Farris was the last UCLA lineman drafted by an NFL team, when he was taken in the third round by the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1999.

Washington State assistant coach Jim Mastro, a Bruins' assistant in 2011, recently said, "We were playing with a Division I-AA line." Klemm hit the recruiting trail looking to change that.

"When I was in school, UCLA had it rolling," said Klemm, who played at Santa Monica St. Monica High. "Linemen were what they were known for. That's one of the things I stressed going on the road recruiting, 'Hey, we want to be O-Line U.'"

Two who signed up, Goines and center/guard Carl Hulick, are freshmen getting long looks, even if they're longshots.

Both are looking very much like freshmen — Goines was run over twice by Zumwalt on Sunday. But both got a look playing with the first-team linemen, tackle Xavier Su'a-Filo, guard Jeff Baca and center Jake Brendel.

"You hear it all the time how the college game is faster, and you think, 'Maybe it is, maybe it isn't,'" Hulick said. "Yesterday, I was wide-eyed. It was like, 'OK, this is how we do this.' I think I got my feet under me today."

Klemm said, "We have to be realistic," when talking about Hulick and Goines earning starting spots.

"Everyone is going to get an opportunity," Klemm said. "But everything we do is so up-tempo that guys like them are swimming. … It's not about football. It's about physical condition."

Physical is what Klemm got Sunday.

Castro to wait

Freshman linebacker Jeremy Castro will not be cleared by the NCAA soon, according to a person familiar with the situation who is not authorized to speak.

The problem with Castro's paperwork, which was red-flagged by the NCAA clearinghouse, could take weeks to resolve. He is expected to redshirt this season if he is cleared.

Early warning signal

Running backs Paul Perkins and Johnathan Franklin each had long touchdown runs. Quarterback Brett Hundley threw two long touchdowns. Safety Dalton Hilliard made a leaping interception.

"I don't want to discount anything anybody is doing, but there are a lot of guys that I have seen through my career who looked really good in underwear," Coach Jim Mora said. "When you put the pads on it differentiates things for you."

Quick hits

UCLA players will be early to bed, early to rise this season, as the Bruins will practice at 7 a.m. after school starts. … Linebacker Eric Kendricks and defensive end Cassius Marsh sat out Sunday because of dehydration problems. Tight end Joseph Fauria and defensive tackle Brandon Willis joined them during Sunday's practice. … Tackle Torian White will undergo tests Monday for chest pains. … Defensive end Sam Tai left practice after suffering a knee injury.

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