It wasn’t too long ago that center Jake Brendel was one of the fresh-faced kids on the UCLA football team’s offensive line.
Now, as a third-year sophomore, he is the veteran in charge.
When he looks to his right, he sees nothing but true freshmen: Alex Redmond at right guard and Caleb Benenoch at right tackle.
Redmond had been a starter all season and Benenoch was seeing plenty of playing time as a reserve before an injury during last week’s game at Utah prompted a line shift.
Left tackle Torian White suffered a broken bone and torn ligament in his right leg. Simon Goines, who had been the starter at right tackle, was moved to the left side, and Benenoch joined the starting lineup.
Redmond and Benenoch are now tethered to Brendel, who, with 18 starts, is the experienced hand.
“It doesn’t really change much for me,” Brendel said. “I make the calls no matter who is in the game.”
Brendel said the freshmen starters know the plays but their inexperience shows in certain situations. “So we have to make sure they see all those situations before we get to the game,” he said.
On Saturday, the Bruins play 1-4 California, which has beaten only Portland State. Bigger games are approaching fast. UCLA plays at Stanford on Oct. 19 and at Oregon on Oct. 26.
Quarterback Brett Hundley said the Bruins’ offense would need to be running efficiently by then. “Once we’re in a game, we don’t have time to sit there and help anyone out. We’re off and rolling.”
Benenoch has already identified areas he needs to improve: “I have to pick up blitzes better. Me and Alex have to communicate a lot more.”
On the clock
The Pac-12 Conference is expecting a marquee matchup when No. 11 UCLA plays No. 5 Stanford. It was first announced that the game would be broadcast on FoxSports1 at 7 p.m. Now it will be at 12:30 p.m. on Channel 7. Conference officials are believed to have negotiated with Fox to move the kickoff to an earlier time after last week’s top game — Washington at Stanford — started at 10:30 p.m on the East Coast and finished around 1:30 A.M.
Cornerback Marcus Rios was in full pads Wednesday for the first time since last fall. Rios spent much of the past year fighting a fungal infection in his sinus that was nearly fatal. … A.J. Pasquale, the older brother of UCLA receiver Nick Pasquale, was at practice Wednesday. Nick Pasquale was killed when struck by a car on Sept. 8. His brother is being brought into the program, possibly to help with administrative duties. … Defensive end Ellis McCarthy (head injury) was not at practice Wednesday, making him doubtful for Saturday’s game.