Practice had just concluded. A light rain had begun to fall on Spaulding Field, and various members of the UCLA football team proceeded to vacate the field.

On the far side of the field, members of the offensive line continued to work, going through footwork and pushing the sleds, hoping to put last year behind them.

“We had a lot of injuries and inexperienced players so it was very difficult,” said offensive line coach Bob Palcic of last season. “It was a learning process, but I believe we’ll be better and stronger having gone through it.”

To say that the Bruins struggled on the offensive line last season would be a tremendous understatement. In their 12 games, the Bruins had nine different starting lineups. Additionally, the offensive line allowed 35 sacks and the Bruins averaged just 2.6 yards per rushing attempt.

Offensive guard Jeff Baca, who started eight games last season at left tackle as a true freshman, said his biggest struggle was that he was undersized for an offensive lineman.

“I was undersized and I was just new to the game,” Baca said. “You come out to college and it’s just quicker, it’s faster, bigger, stronger. And I was just a little underdeveloped in that sense. After an offseason, I feel a lot more comfortable out here.”

Redshirt senior Nick Ekbatani, who started six games at right tackle and six games at right guard last season, said that players have worked hard over the offseason to get bigger and stronger, and believes that the unit will be a strong point of the team.

The work the offensive line has put in has caught the attention of coach Rick Neuheisel.

“First of all you have to look at all the work that’s gone into the offseason,” Neuheisel said. “I think they’re bigger, I think they’re stronger. Hopefully they’re going to be more athletic and be the kind of team that can move the ball on a consistent basis. I thought early in the scrimmage we looked like we were moving the ball pretty well on the ground.”

On Tuesday, the first team offensive line consisted of Sean Sheller at left tackle, Baca at left guard, Kai Maiava at center, Ekbatani at right guard and Nate Chandler at right tackle. Palcic said he has yet to decide on a starting unit.

“I want everybody to compete and by the time we get to the first game, I’ll have settled on a starting unit,” Palcic said.

One of the biggest keys to an improvement this season will be having a second year with the same coaching staff.

Last season the Bruins underwent a coaching transition, with a new coach in Neuheisel, a new offensive line coach in Palcic and a new offensive coordinator in Norm Chow. Now that there is a sense of familiarity, the players are confident there will be an improvement.

“We’re all really confident in each other, and we feel it’s going to be an awesome year, our O-line as a unit,” Baca said. “We’re coming together really well, doing things as a unit, playing as a unit.”

INJURIES: Redshirt freshman quarterback Kevin Prince was limited in practice Tuesday with a sore arm. Neuheisel said that though they decided to rest Prince, he does not see it as serious and expects him to be back Thursday when the Bruins return to practice.

Kevin Craft split time with Prince with the first unit, while Richard Brehaut got extended reps with the second unit. … Tight end Cory Harkey suffered a hamstring injury, joining runningback Christian Ramirez and fullback Chane Moline as players dealing with hamstring issues.

“Those guys are going to be counted on next year,” Neuheisel said. “But it does give us a chance to develop depth behind them and ultimately this game is a game of attrition, Maybe it’s a blessing in disguise.”