Thank UCLA football’s offensive line took giant steps in terms of progress last season, making their position group one of the quickest to develop under Chip Kelly, but they are also going through a lot of roster changes. With that in mind, what will the mighty Bruin O-line do next season?
If you ask any UCLA football fan, “what position group developed the fastest?”, there is a good chance they will say “the offensive line”.
Last season, first-year OL coach Justin Frye took on the Herculean task of turning a slapdash offensive line into something workable. What no one expected was that he would have them playing like seasoned veterans by the end of the year..
UCLA Football – Potential Offensive Line Depth Chart for 2019
- LT: Sean Rhyan (Fr), Alec Anderson (R-Fr), Stephen DeFranco (R-Fr)
- LG: Michael Alves (R-Jr), Beau Taylor (Fr), Sean Marrazzo (R-So)
- C: Boss Tagaloa (Sr), Duke Clemens (Fr), Mohamed Khalil (R-Fr)
- RG: Chris Murray (So), Baraka Beckett (R-Fr), Josh Carlin (Fr)
- RT: Jake Burton (R-Jr), Jon Gaines (R-Fr), Lucas Grammlick (R-So)
In the first four games of the season, when UCLA was adjusting to the new Chip Kelly offense, the Bruins averaged 17.0 points and 311.3 total yards per game. In their last four games, those numbers improved from 31.3 points and 485.5 total yards. Needless to say, UCLA was a lot better by season’s end. A lot of that had to do with the offensive line.
With UCLA making such strides, there was a lot of excitement surrounding the OL heading into next season, especially since they looked like they were returning all of their starters. A few weeks after the season ended, that was not the case.
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First, it was announced that grad transfer Justin Murphy was once again going to be a grad transfer and leave UCLA after he was granted another season of eligibility. Then we found out that the Bruins’ best O-lineman, Andre James was, in fact, foregoing his final season of eligibility to enter the NFL Draft.
In the last two weeks, it was also announced that backup OL Josh Wariboko-Alali was leaving as a grad transfer. So just like that, the Bruins were down three offensive linemen. Even though UCLA will be returning Boss Tagaloa, Michael Alves, Chris Murray, and Jake Burton, their rhythm will be thrown off without those three Bruins.
The good news is, they still have Frye who is in a more secured role as he was promoted to offensive coordinator after the season. Not only will he continue to improve the O-line, but he will be able to have a hand in constructing the offense with Chip Kelly.
Last season, Frye had to work on improving fundamentals and technique while also trying to implement new concepts. The Bruins has a lot of interesting formations with specific blocking assignments.
One of the more successful formations was the unbalanced line which had a tackle positioned on the other side of the line next to his counterpart. The Bruins would sometimes add a tight end to that heavy side of the line for extra protection which helped the execution of the zone read. With the majority of the linemen having a year of experience in this offense under their belt, success on the line should come sooner than later in 2019. But that’s not all.
In addition to this, the Bruins are bringing in four linemen with this latest recruiting class. The gem of the class is 4-star tackle Sean Rhyan who should compete for a starting spot as soon as he steps on campus. The three other OLs will help with depth but will most likely start out as role players, especially Beau Taylor and Duke Clemens.
As they prepare for next year, the Bruins’ offensive line will go through different combinations, especially during offseason training and camps. In a few weeks, we will witness the state of the line during Spring Training, which should look similar to what they did at the end of 2018, but it will not fully manifest itself into their next phase until fall camp.
With just over 200 days until the start of the 2019 season, UCLA will have plenty of time to develop the line and get their schemes ready for the season. After seeing their creativity in 2018, we should expect more exciting play in Year 2.