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Bruins' offensive line issues exposed, exploited in loss

UCLA's offensive line is beset by injuries and inexperience, and Arizona State took advantage, registering nine sacks in 38-33 win.

November 24, 2013|By Chris Foster

UCLA's problems along the offensive line grew a little worse Saturday.

Tackle Simon Goines broke a bone in his leg against Arizona State and underwent surgery Sunday. Goines' absence was not the sole reason the Sun Devils battered quarterback Brett Hundley in a 38-33 victory, but it was a contributing factor.

The Sun Devils had nine sacks and flushed Hundley from the pocket on a number of other occasions.

Out of that frying pan, into this fire: USC's defensive front may be on the same level as Arizona State's.

The Bruins have three offensive linemenwho were in high school last season. That creates urgency to avoid third-and-long situations.

"We have to win the first and second downs," Coach Jim Mora said. "We need to get third and short and not put so much pressure on the young guys up front."

After Goines was injured, Scott Quessenberry moved into the lineup at guard, with guard Xavier Su'a-Filo taking over at tackle. Quessenberry was matched against Arizona State's Will Sutton.

"We knew Scotty would chew on his ankles all day," Mora said. "But the fact of the matter is Scotty is an 18-year-old freshman who weighs 270 pounds, playing against a 22-year-old man who weighs about 330."

UCLA reached the Arizona State 45-yard line with 1 minute 13 seconds left, needing a touchdown to win. Quessenberry and freshman guard Alex Redmond were called for holding on consecutive plays. Hundley was sacked on third down, leaving the Bruins in a fourth-and-35 situation with 33 seconds left.

"It would have been difficult for Brett to do anything about that," Mora said. "You could always say he could have thrown it earlier or he could have used his legs to get out of there. The answer in most cases was he could not. They have a really good front and they did an excellent job of rushing four guys, winning double teams at times."

The Bruins see another front line just like that this week.

Good medicine?

UCLA saw its chance to go to a third consecutive Pac-12 championship game vanish with the loss to Arizona State. It left the Bruins with one meaningless-in-the-standings regular-season game to play.

Except . . .

"It's Southern Cal," safety Anthony Jefferson said.

Nothing would cleanse the palate better than providing a rival with some pain.

"It gives us something significant to aim at," Mora said.

The Rose Bowl is out for both teams, as Arizona State and Stanford will play for that honor. The bowl scenarios are of the lower-tier variety for the Bruins and Trojans.

"Losing this game was tough," defensive end Cassius Marsh said Saturday. "We have been working toward this goal all season, now it's gone. I think this will eat at us for a long time."

With little to cheer them up.

"A victory over 'SC would probably make it a little better," Marsh said.

Age discrimination

Of Arizona State's 22 starters Saturday, 17 have been in the program for at least four years. That includes eight who are either fifth-year seniors or graduate students. UCLA started nine players who have two or fewer years of college experience.

The Sun Devils used 47 players, with 30 having at least three years in the program. UCLA used 58 players, 30 of whom have been in the program two or fewer years.

Injury report

UCLA cornerback Fabien Moreau pulled a hamstring against Arizona State. His availability this week is to be determined.

Receiver Darren Andrews will undergo surgery Tuesday to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee. Receiver Grayson Mazzone will have knee surgery this week. Receiver Tyler Scott suffered a broken wrist.

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