If and when he retires, Adrian Klemm might get billed as the “guy who fixed UCLA’s offensive line.” Praise enough, the UCLA’s offensive line coach agreed.
That being said, Klemm is not ready to retire, and he is certainly not ready to shout “problem solved” as the Bruins’ beef works its way through training camp.
“I don’t know if I fixed the problem, but hopefully I have contributed in making us one of the strengths of the team,” Klemm said. “We still have a long ways to go. Hopefully I can be mentioned in that conversation down the road.”
Klemm thinks about the future. Many Bruins’ fans can recall the recent past.
On Wednesday, starting guard Alex Redmond wobbled to the sideline because of the heat. Tackle Conor McDermott was held out to rest a surgically repaired shoulder. Simon Goines, the starting left tackle the last two seasons, watched to rest a knee that was surgically repaired.
Three prominent linemen missing would have reduced the Bruins to playing flag football three years ago. Now …
Scott Quessenberry and John Lopez moved in at guards and Miami transfer Malcolm Bunche slid over to tackle.
“It would have been a problem before,” center Jake Brendel said. “Now, it’s, ‘OK, next man up!'”
UCLA has brought in 11 lineman the last three seasons since Klemm was hired. The difference is striking.
“We needed more numbers,” said Brendel, who with McDermott are the only linemen who pre-date Klemm. “Basically we needed to get the right guys in here to be successful. There is pressure when you have someone who is close to your ability pushing you every day. That’s good motivation.”
Bunche was the bonus, the Miami Miracle who transferred from South Beach as a graduate student. He is the lone senior, and can play tackle or guard.
Still, Klemm is not ready to call it a complete makeover.
“We have numbers, but not as much quality as I would like,” Klemm said. “We are definitely getting better, definitely heading in the right direction. We’re still developing.”
He pointed out the youth, calling it one of the youngest offensives in the nation. Of the 14 linemen, 11 are sophomores or freshmen.
Still, the one thing that can be said about the line is something that is no longer being said: “UCLA’s biggest concern is the offensive line.”
Said Brendel: “Yeah, it’s nice not to hear that anymore.”