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UCLA football: Bruins offensive line has had makeover in two seasons

October 24, 2013|By Chris Foster
  • The UCLA offensive line gives quarterback Brett Hundley plenty of time in the pocket against the New Mexico State pass rush in the first quarter of a game earlier this season.
The UCLA offensive line gives quarterback Brett Hundley plenty of time… (Luis Sinco / Los Angeles…)

There was enough talent on the UCLA roster for Coach Jim Mora and his staff to reshape the Bruins into the Pac-12 Conference's South Division champions last season.

But there was one area so lacking that it remains a work in progress.

The Bruins’ offensive line has become home to starters who are only months removed from their high school graduation.

Freshman Alex Redmond has started at right guard since the season began and freshman Caleb Benenoch moved in at right  tackle last week. Now Scott Quessenberry may be set to make his college debut at left guard.

“You look at our offensive linemen and there are not many guys here now who were here when we first took over,” Mora said. “I think it was pretty apparent when we took this job that there was a need to address that position significantly.”

UCLA brought in 15 offensive linemen from 2008 to 2011. They included Jake Brendel and Xavier Su’a-Filo, who are currently starting, and Jeff Baca, who started four seasons. But six linemen took medical retirements, three were never a factor and one flunked out.

The Bruins brought in 12 offensive linemen in the past two recruiting classes.

 “We have addressed it to a certain extent through recruiting, but that means you are playing a lot of young guys,” Mora said.

Offensive line coach Adrian Klemm has been getting the kids up to speed, an effort that has been hampered by injuries to tackle Torian White (leg) and tackle Simon Goines (ankle). Both were starters.

“I think he has done an amazing job, not only recruiting, but with his coaching,” Mora said. “He’s patching this thing together and teaching the things they need to know.”

The line remains the linchpin to UCLA’s offensive success this season, and beyond.

“Two areas on a team that are difficult to hide are your offensive line and your secondary,” Mora said. “You’re protecting two pretty darn valuable commodities. On the offensive side, it’s your quarterback, or at least your ability to move the ball effectively. The other side, it’s the end zone with the secondary.”

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