No matter who was going to be trotting onto the field for UCLA on Saturday, beating mighty Oregon – in Eugene – was not going to be easy. Making matters worse, coach Jim Mora’s Bruins will be starting four true freshmen, a red-shirt freshman, and three sophomores on offense.
One might be inclined to think that, with redshirt sophomore Brett Hundley under center, UCLA’s offense will be just fine.
Mora told reporters, via Coaching Search, quarterback is not what he’s concerned about. In fact, he’s mostly worried about having freshmen playing along the offensive line.
“I think the two areas of your team that are really difficult to hide are your offensive line and your secondary. If you think about it, you’re protecting two valuable commodities. On one side, it’s the quarterback or at least the ability to move the ball effectively. On the other side, it’s the end zone. So much of those two positions is continuity, cohesiveness, communication, and having a feel for each other for how they move in space. When you have a lot of change like we’ve had, it makes it more difficult. It puts a huge burden on the players and it puts a huge burden on Coach Klemm (offensive line coach) and it makes it a little more difficult for Noel (Mazzone) when calling plays. People will always complain about play-calling when you’re not successful on offense, but when you’re always having to factor in what’s happening up front and who you’re trying to protect and how to protect him, it makes it that much more difficult.”
Because of all that, Mora believes the offensive line is the most difficult place for a freshman to play.
He explained, “Offensive line, without a doubt because so many things happen so quickly. You’ve got big guys right across from you, breathing down on you that are trying to get to your quarterback or disrupt your play. Things change quickly. Right before the snap, they can go from 4-man look to a 3-man look or jump into a bear look and it changes everything that you have to be able to process and you better to be able to process it quickly. I think that’s really hard and then when you have two freshmen standing next to each other, it makes it even more difficult. But here’s the positives. This offensive line is getting better every day and has the potential to be great at some point. It’s because of the types of players they are. They’re big, physical, strong, athletic guys that really give a darn about being good and they’re very well coaches. It’s exciting for me to see the progress being made; at the same time it’s frustrating because you don’t want to see those mistakes. There is huge potential at that position and I think it’s a real credit to Adrian (Klemm).”