Palcic is looking for the right mix
UCLA’s quarterback situation has overtaken every other story coming out of training camp this week. Can Kevin Craft find consistency? Will Chris Forcier learn the offense? Does Troy Aikman have any eligibility remaining?
But what will determine how much success the Bruins can achieve this season remains the offensive line. During spring practice, offensive line coach Bob Palcic was not handed the Seven Blocks of Granite, but a bag of cement and some water. Basically, he’s still mixing.
The Bruins’ first-team line combinations change not only daily, but sometimes within the same practice. Darius Savage was at right guard, with Nate Chandler next to him at tackle Tuesday afternoon. On the next series, guard Sonny Tevaga and tackle Nick Ekbatani replaced them.
“There is nothing set in stone,” Palcic said. “I’ve done it that way my whole career. There is a lot of competition out there. I’m moving guys around so they will know more than one position. It gives me much flexibility.”
Palcic said the line has improved considerably since spring practice and the competition has helped during training camp.
“Last season, there was the first team and nobody was going to change that,” Tevaga said. “This year is different. Coach Palcic is giving everyone the same opportunity to succeed or mess up. It makes you more focused. You have to think, ‘I can’t mess up or it will ruin my chances of playing.’ ”
Still, depth remains a concern. With that in mind, defensive tackle Jess Ward was asked to move to guard.
“Coach [Rick] Neuheisel told me he wanted to see me do a little guard,” said Ward, who is recovering from knee surgery. “I played it in high school, so I’m familiar with it and I’m catching on pretty fast.”
Palcic said he would like to have the first unit settled “about 10 days before the season opener.”
Meanwhile, at quarterback . . .
Craft and Forcier both had better moments Tuesday, yet both showed they still had a ways to go.
Neuheisel’s daily analysis was, “Both are getting better, but they are not there yet by any stretch of the imagination. I think Craft made all the right decisions today, but he just missed balls that he shouldn’t miss. Forcier sometimes finds ways to hit balls, but he is all over the place.”
Running back Derrick Coleman, an incoming freshman, has a torn meniscus in his right knee and may need arthroscopic surgery.
Linebacker Reggie Carter sat out both practices Tuesday because of a slight concussion, and is expected to miss the next couple of days.
Quarterback Osaar Rasshan missed the afternoon practice because of tendinitis in his left knee.
Defensive tackle Brian Price rejoined full contact drills after sitting out two days because of dizziness.