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UCLA FYI: Offensive line needs to be more productive, and protective

UCLA FYI: Offensive line needs to be more productive, and protective
UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley can't find an open receiver as the Utah defense gets past Bruins fullback Nate Iese (32) during the third quarter Saturday at the Rose Bowl. (Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

UCLA offensive line coach Adrian Klemm has said that when people want to talk to offensive linemen, it's rarely a good thing. People wanted to talk with UCLA offensive linemen Tuesday.

The Bruins allowed 10 sacks in their loss against Utah. Granted, the Utes were leading the nation in sacks per game before Saturday, but things won't be much easier for UCLA this week.

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Oregon, which plays the Bruins in the Rose Bowl this Saturday, is tied for 18th nationally, averaging 3.2 sacks per game.

Things have to get better for UCLA this week, tackle Malcolm Bunche said.

"Obviously we need better communication on the offensive line, with the quarterback and the running backs," Bunche said. "We watched a lot of film. We came in Sunday and were there for five, six, seven hours, watching the Utah film, watching Oregon film, preparing."

The Bruins had been better at pass protection since the opener against Virginia, which sacked Brett Hundley five times. Things unraveled against the Utes.

"It was loud and people weren't speaking up as far as between the center and tackles," Bunche said. "We worked on it today and did a great job going through offense, pass protection. We're going to be ready for Oregon."

Bruins Coach Jim Mora dealt out responsibility equally for the harassment of Hundley.

"It was individuals who needed to play better, it was us, as a staff, putting them in a better position, giving them some help when they were struggling," Mora said. "It was staying out of situations where they were able to pin their ears back and come after us. It was the quarterback getting rid of the ball sometimes and not drifting sometimes. It was receivers winning earlier."

Whether UCLA will receive help remains to be seen. Guard Alex Redmond, who missed the Utah game because of an ankle injury, was limited to individual workouts Tuesday. Tackle Simon Goines, out since August knee surgery, continued with individual work. Both could increase their work in practice this week.

QB debate

Opposing quarterbacks received some love Tuesday from the coaches they will face Saturday.

Mora said of Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota, "I have so much admiration for him. I love his mind-set on the field, his toughness. There are a lot of reasons that he is recognized as maybe the greatest college football player this year."

Oregon Coach Mark Helfrich is just as taken by Hundley, saying, "He's a really good passer and has always been an efficient runner. He manages to not take many hits as he did in the past. Maybe that's a veteran move, limiting the number of  shots."

Oregon handled Hundley in a 42-14 victory last season. He completed 13 of 19 passes, but for only 64 yards. He had 72 yards rushing.

"We did a great job of doing our jobs, mixing the rush, changing up the coverage," Helfrich said. "We had a couple of lucky times as well. There were a couple times they had guys wide open and weren't able to get them the ball."

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Bruin psyche

Mora, when asked if this was his most competitive team, jumped at the opportunity to agree.

"Just through five games, with what I've seen, I wouldn't argue with it being the most competitive," Mora said. "You think about all that happened to us the other night, and it was self-imposed, and I told them it was self-imposed, we still had a chance with zero seconds on the clock to win that game."

Mora added, "There are a lot of teams I've been involved with or seen or been around that would have folded the tent and gone home. I never expected them to do that, and they didn't."

Follow Chris Foster on Twitter @cfosterlatimes

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