UCLA’s offensive line looks strong


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UCLA fans at Friday’s practice stood up and cheered. It was only first day in full pads and the fourth play of an 11-on-11 scrimmage, but tailback Derrick Coleman burst through a huge hole for a long touchdown run.

This was certainly a site for sore Bruin eyes, after finishing 116th in yards rushing per game out of 119 major-college teams last season.

Throughout the scrimmage, the Bruins’ offensive line controlled play, opening big holes for running backs and giving quarterback Kevin Prince time to find receivers.

“I am really pleased with our guys,” offensive line coach Bob Palcic said. “We have a good recruiting class and I’m pleased that our upper classmen have responded and have worked to get better this season.”


The first unit included freshman tackle Xavier Su’a-Filo and freshman guard Stanley Hasiak. They joined center Kai Maiava, a transfer from Colorado, guard Eddie Williams, a transfer from Mt. San Antonio College, and sophomore Jeff Baca. The second unit was tackles Micah Kia and Mike Harris, guards Darius Savage and Brandon Bennett and center Nick Ekbatani.

Both groups controlled the line.

Palcic said that he would not hesitate to start true freshmen, such as Su’a-Filo and Hasiak if “they earn it.”

Changes will be made in the coming week, but Coach Rick Neuheisel said, “We’ll know more following Aug. 22. That’s the first time we scrimmage where the coaches get out of the way and those young players have to remember what to do without coaches whispering in their ear.”

Other UCLA notes:

-- UCLA and Rutgers were in negotiations to play in the 2010 season opener at Giants Stadium, but the deal crumbled when Kansas State decided to remain on the Bruins’ 2010 schedule. UCLA plays in Manhattan, Kan., next season. UCLA officials are exploring moving another game to the season opener for a national broadcast, possibly Texas.

-- Minor injuries and illness left reserve quarterback Kevin Craft (a sore throat and fever), wide receiver Randall Carroll (groin), wide receiver Nelson Rosario (ankle) and safety Stan McKay (dislocated finger) sitting out drills Friday. Ryan Moya (knee) missed a third day of practice and is not expected back until Monday.

-- UCLA senior cornerback Alterraun Verner and junior place kicker Kai Forbath have been selected to the All-America team.

-- Top recruits who attended practice Friday were running back Jordan James (Corona), running back Anthony Barr (Los Angeles Loyola), tight end John Young (Loyola), offensive lineman Chris Ward (Santa Ana Mater Dei), and defensive lineman Marquis Jackson (Lake Balboa Birmingham). Jackson has already made an oral commitment to UCLA.

-- Chris Foster