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Xavier Su'a-Filo keys UCLA's protection plan

UCLA FOOTBALL FYI

Sophomore will be on the left side of the offensive line, guarding the quarterback's blind side, a tall task for someone who hasn't played in two years because he went on a Mormon mission.

August 22, 2012|By Baxter Holmes
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Brett Hundley, UCLA's starting quarterback, has a blind side that will need protecting in his first season on the job. Xavier Su'a-Filo is the man who's expected to guard it.

Su'a-Filo seems a fine candidate for that task. The NFL hasn't drafted a UCLA offensive lineman since 1999, and Su'a-Filo, a 6-foot-4, 295-pound sophomore, is considered the player who will break that streak.

But with UCLA's offensive line plagued by recent injuries, Su'a-Filo has been shuffled around, practicing at left guard and left tackle.

Su'a-Filo, a natural tackle, says he'll line up wherever he's needed.

Still, Su'a-Filo, who started 13 games as a freshman but hasn't played in two years because he went on a Mormon mission, added that he has no experience outside of playing the offensive tackle position.

"Tackle, you just have more space to operate," he said. "You have more space with your defender. And [as a] guard, you don't have so much. You have guys on either side of you. That's really the only difference."

Coach Jim Mora said that projected line starters Jeff Baca and Greg Capella, who have each been out for about two weeks because of concussions, have been cleared to play along with Alberto Cid, a part-time starter last season who has also been out because of a concussion.

None of the three participated in Wednesday's practice.

Time out

There still seem to be a few kinks to work out in the Pac-12 Conference's new television contract … like when Fox affiliates should be releasing television schedules.

Fox's Reno station posted a season schedule Wednesday, which included UCLA playing noon games against California on Oct. 6 and Utah on Oct. 13. Upon further review, that was a little premature.

The conference fired off an email to its schools saying, "Unfortunately, a Fox affiliate inadvertently posted an internal document not meant for public distribution that listed potential selections of Pac-12 and Big 12 football games during the 2012 season. Fox had the affiliate immediately remove the post as soon as they became aware of it, but the document still seems to be accessible."

Only five games have been officially assigned to Fox at this time, the conference said in its email: Hawaii at USC on Sept. 1, Nebraska at UCLA on Sept. 8, USC at Stanford on Sept. 15, Utah at Colorado on Nov. 23 and Washington at Washington State on Nov. 23.

Quick hits

UCLA's scout team performed as Rice for the first time as the Bruins prepared for their Aug. 30 opener against the Owls in Houston. ... The Bruins are planning a closed walk-through at the Rose Bowl on Thursday. In previous years, the team has used the walk-through to simulate its pregame routine. UCLA will resume practice Saturday.

baxter.holmes@latimes.com

twitter.com/BaxterHolmes

Times staff writer Chris Foster contributed to this report.

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