Monday, March 25

Troubled times on the line


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Maxwell Henderson


It’s no secret that UCLA quarterbacks haven’t been able to stay healthy in recent years, so Rick Neuheisel set out to fix that by beefing up his offensive line.

Four-star recruits Xavier Su’a-Filo and Stanley Hasiak came to Westwood in 2009 and were supposed to ensure that those lining up under center would be safe for years to come. Fans got a glimpse of why the duo was so highly ranked coming out of high school ““ Su’a-Filo started all 13 games as a true freshman and Hasiak saw extensive playing time early in the season ““ but neither will be suiting up this year. Their absences aren’t the only notable ones on this year’s line, which has been decimated over the past year. Four of the five starters on opening day last year won’t be starting this year’s opener in Manhattan, Kan., leaving lots of questions ahead for the new-look line.

Projected Offensive Line Starters:

Left tackle: Sean Sheller

It’s been a roller coaster ride in Westwood for redshirt senior Sheller, who has battled multiple injuries and was used at defensive tackle last season. Injuries and issues among Sheller’s peers have essentially forced him into the starting job at the all-important blind side position.

Left guard: Darius Savage

The academic and physical issues that have plagued junior Jeff Baca throughout the summer created an opportunity for redshirt senior Savage, who has been surprisingly effective in fall camps after moving up the depth chart.

Center: Ryan Taylor

Yet another Bruin filling in for an injured teammate, redshirt senior Taylor takes over at center after the loss of Kai Maiava. Taylor was expected to add depth at both center and guard this season, but he will now be asked to handle the new pistol offense and has done well thus far.

Right guard: Eddie Williams

Redshirt senior Williams has been a lock at right guard ever since he transferred into the program out of junior college before the 2009 season. One of the team’s strongest players, Williams could form a dynamic right side of the line with redshirt senior Micah Kia.

Right tackle: Micah Kia

The unquestioned leader of the offensive line and of the team in general, the redshirt senior returns for another go-round after suffering a knee injury in last season’s fall camp and missing all of the 2009 season.

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