In just three short years, UCLA football head coach Jim Mora has turned the Bruin offensive line (if you could call it that back in 2012) into the most experienced in the nation. This fall, UCLA will be putting several seasoned offensive linemen on the field that has a combined 131 starts. This is something that the Bruins have been looking forward to for quite a while.
It is safe to say that the Bruins have been looking forward to this for over a decade.
Back in the Rick Neuheisel era (and arguably with Karl Dorrell), not a week went by that the coaches were swapping players into different positions. The Bruins barely had enough players for a proper O-line.
Now, the Mora-led Bruins are 3 or 4 deep at each position on the line. That is due to recruiting, development and the construction of a nationally recognized program.
This fall, we will be seeing the results of that with a UCLA O-line that may be the most experienced in the nation, but it is still no where near their potential.
With all the offensive linemen on their roster, the Bruins only have one senior on the team, preseason Rimington Trophy nominee, Jake Brendel. Not bad for a team with the most collective starts in the country.
Sep 25, 2014; Tempe, AZ, USA; UCLA Bruins offensive lineman Jake Brendel (54) against the Arizona State Sun Devils at Sun Devil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Because the Bruins were looking to improve and accelerate the growth of the O-line three years ago, Mora’s first class was loaded with big and talented players with a lot of potential. Unfortunately, there was no time to wait and then in-coming freshmen Caleb Benenoch, Scott Quessenberry, Kenny Lacy and Alex Redmond were seemingly thrown into the fire and did a respectable job helping the Bruins to a 10-win season in their first year.
UCLA will be putting several seasoned offensive linemen on the field that has a combined 131 starts.
With Benenoch, Quessenberry and Redmond getting the majority of the snaps, the Bruins were developing a line that was good, but still shaky. Though they had the services of Carl Hulick, Conor McDermott, Simon Goines and Poasi Moala to help, the O-line was very young and inexperienced.
Last season, the Bruins gave up an abysmal 41 sacks with 10 coming in a 30-28 loss to Utah. UCLA football ranked 114th out of 125 FBS schools in sacks allowed last year. Horrible yes, but somehow, UCLA pulled it together for their second 10-win season in a row, the first time that has happened since 1998.
The 2015-16 UCLA Offensive Line should be the best group the Bruins have had since the 90’s. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports
The offensive line had dramatically improved toward the end of the 2014 season and is looking to keep that momentum going in the future.
This fall, UCLA looks to have a starting offensive line (from left to right) of McDermott, Redmond, Brendel, Benenoch and Goines.
Additionally, they will not only have several reliable back-ups, but they will also have more newbies coming in the fall as the Bruins landed five offensive linemen this past National Signing Day. That includes the top center in the nation Fred Ulu-Perry as well as junior college transfer Zach Bateman who enrolled this past January and participated in Spring Practice.
UCLA football not only has experience on the line, they look to have experience for the next several years. How about that for a change in culture?
So this year, though it will be interesting to see how they perform with a new quarterback as three-year starter Brett Hundley has gone to the NFL, Bruin fans should expect some very good things from this squad. Very, very good things.