With the most combined starts of any offensive line in the country, the big men in the trenches for UCLA football will look to continue their success from last season, especially when trying to continue having success on offense, yet, the Bruins will have a new quarterback and trying to limit sacks and penalties needs to be cleaned up.
[table id=79 /]
Front Line, Assemble!
Sep 25, 2014; Tempe, AZ, USA; UCLA Bruins offensive lineman Jake Brendel (54) snaps the ball against the Arizona State Sun Devils at Sun Devil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
131 combined starts. That is the most in Division I football and it belongs to UCLA. Since head coach Jim Mora got to Westwood, one of the things fans pleaded with him about is strengthening the offensive line. He did that and more. By re-shuffling the O-line, Mora got the most out of his line. He is also not afraid to use freshmen so several of these now junior players saw extensive time in their first true season.
That has now translated into the most experienced O-line in the country. Right now, the Bruins look to have a similar starting line-up to last season: LT Conor McDermott, LG Alex Redmond, C Jake Brendel, RG Caleb Benenoch and RT Simon Goines.
Last year, the UCLA football coaches made several changes to the line hoping to have more success than they did in the beginning of the season which was riddled with inconsistency, penalties and sacks allowed. But as every good team does, they adjusted and the core of the line, Redmond, Brendel and Benenoch, were solid for the most part, but things had to get stronger on the outside.
Conor McDermott replaced graduate transfer Malcolm Bunche shortly after the Bruins allowed 10 sacks in one game vs Utah. Since then, the line was a bit tighter and more efficient.
That should continue this fall, especially with the Bruins getting back Simon Goines who missed all of last season due to ankle surgery. Goines is now back and he looks better than ever. If this line can stay healthy, that will be a bonus for UCLA, but if by chance they do not, they have a lot of back-up.
CB74 doesn’t care who the QB is for the Bruins. He’s got their back, regardless. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
2-Deep and the Freshmen
Stocking up on offensive linemen did not seem to be an issue for Mora and the UCLA football team. In the last four National Signing Days, the Bruins have averaged just over four O-linemen commits per year. Because of that, there is a lot of players getting the experience in the trenches that the Bruins need.
UCLA’s second string offensive line consists of three players that already have game time experience: Scott Queesenberry, Kenny Lacy and Poasi Moala. With the Bruins loaded on the front line, these players will see more time on the field again this year, but it will most likely be when they need to give one of the starters a spell or come-in to replace a injured player (which we hope does not happen). Still, with the coaches trying to figure out the best line, these three players offer a lot of experience and have proven to handle themselves on the line.
Adding to the back-up, the Bruins got junior college transfer OG Zach Bateman this last signing day and enrolled early to work with UCLA during Spring Practice, so he is already getting used to the game plan. Next to him at LT, is 6’8″, 300 lbs. redshirt freshman Kolton Miller who saw a lot of reps with the O-line’s second unit in Spring Practice.
On top of all that, the Bruins had a commitment from any entirely new line this past signing day. Along with Bateman, UCLA brought in the #1 center in the country, Fred Ulu-Perry, #1 OG in Oklahoma, Josh Wariboko, the #1 OT in Utah, Andre James and the #1 OG in California, Tevita Halalilo. Though many of these guys will not see time this year as they could be third or fourth on the depth chart, it is safe to say the future is bright for the UCLA football offensive line.
The Experienced Back-Up
The majority of these Bruins have not seen playing time but are also an integral part of the team. It also shows the kind of work Mora and staff have done as they have the makings of a four-deep offensive line. Cristian Garcia, Giovanni Gentosi, Carl Hulick, John Lopez and Jake Toureville are all guys that we saw getting good reps in Spring Practice, but with the depth chart full, it is most likely that these guys see time with the scout team.
[table id=80 /]