The one and only mandate for the offensive line this spring likely should have been "get through it healthy," but, unfortunately, UCLA wasn't able to do so. Albert Cid, who suffered a concussion in the early going of spring camp, opted to retire from football. With the talented freshmen coming in this fall, Cid may not have been a projected starter, but he was one of the handful of offensive linemen currently on the roster who could be counted on to play in a pinch. Greg Capella, who sat out most of last season with a concussion issue, also retired from football, taking away another capable body. Simon Goines, who had offseason knee surgery, was in and out of practice as he continues to make his return to full health (something he's never actually reached at UCLA). With Cid out for most of spring, and Goines out for big chunks of time, UCLA muddled through with a combination of Ben Wysocki, Kody Innes, Carl Hulick, and Kevin McReynolds at the guard spots. Xavier Su'a-Filo, who's almost assuredly going to play left guard in the fall, spent most of the spring at left tackle out of necessity. Torian White and Goines mainly split reps at the right tackle spot, and Goines actually got very little work at left tackle, which is where he is slated to play in the fall.
As we guessed before the start of spring camp, there weren't many takeaways from camp. With most of the projected starters playing positions other than what they'd be playing in the fall, and many players filling in on the first and second team who likely won't be contributing in the fall, the offensive line effectively hung a sign on the unit reading "Waiting for Freshmen."
Torian White RS SO: Despite having all of the physical tools that you'd look for in a left tackle, White had earned a reputation during his first two years at UCLA of not being fully committed to football. During the season, he was actually pulled from games a couple of times for playing lackadaisically. This spring was a big step in the right direction for him. With Goines out at times, he had to fill in at both right and left tackle and did well at both spots. He also looked thicker through the chest, which was a necessary change after he got pushed around at times last year. Going into spring, you could easily have said that, among the returning starters, White's spot was the most precarious, but now it's not so easy to say.
Ben Wysocki RS SO: Wysocki, who drew a great deal of praise from the coaching staff during fall camp last season, was underwhelming on the scout team last year, looking a little slow and weak at the point of attack. While he wasn't exactly a revelation this spring, he was decidedly better, and seems to have worked a great deal on moving his feet better in pass protection. He got stronger as well, which helped to keep him from getting pushed around quite so much. He was another guy who had to move around quite a bit in the spring, even filling in at left tackle on a day where Goines was out and Su'a-Filo needed a breather. It would still be a pretty desperate situation for Wysocki to contribute this year, but it's good to see that he's developed since last year.
Jake Brendel RS SO: He didn't fall far, but by the end of the spring, his snapping became quite an adventure. He wasn't helped by playing alongside a set of guards who likely won't see the field at UCLA, but, in any offense, getting the ball to the quarterback without issue is the most important job for a center. He's physically stronger than a year ago, and his shoulder, which ailed him last season for most of the year, is healthy. He and Su'a-Filo are probably the safest among the starters, but Brendel's snapping needs to quickly become one of his strengths.
Where Things Project:
We still think there's a good chance that, as planned, Goines makes the switch to left tackle, White slots in at right tackle, and Su'a-Filo moves back to left guard. We know the coaching staff is high on Goines, and you can see why. Even though he hasn't had much more than one or two fully healthy minutes in Westwood, he has shown a dedication to the game that had been sorely lacking among UCLA's players up until last season. If he can get to full health before the start of the season, he will likely slot in at left tackle. White's position might still be a little precarious, but the light switch might finally be flipping for him. Both Goines and White will be tested by the freshmen tackles, but for now, we'd likely project both returners to be the starters for Nevada. No one emerged as a credible guard candidate for the right guard spot this spring, so that position will almost certainly be manned by a true freshman in the fall. The only thing that changed fundamentally from action this spring is that we'd probably bump Wysocki a bit higher up the depth chart.
Our Best Guess Depth Chart for Nevada:
Simon Goines SO
Poasi Moala FR
Kenny Lacy FR
Xavier Su'a-Filo JR
Ben Wysocki RS SO
John Lopez FR
Jake Brendel RS SO
Scott Quessenberry FR
Carl Hulick RS FR
Alex Redmond FR OR
Caleb Benenoch FR
Kevin McReynolds RS SO
Torian White RS SO
Christian Morris FR
Conor McDermott RS FR
Spring Review: Offensive Line
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