#1 – Settle the Offensive Line
If Brendel doesn’t play against Virginia, Redmond would remain at center, and if Benenoch moves to right tackle over McDermott, then the two guard spots will be filled by two of Toran, Quessenberry or Lacy.
The offensive line, clearly, is the biggest priority to get straight this week before Virginia.
#2 – Get As Healthy As Possible
There is really only one projected starter who is out for the Virginia game – and that’s right tackle Simon Goines, who is out for probably the first two games after bone-spur surgery on his ankle. Other than that, UCLA is relatively healthy. With Goines, too, there is probably a question whether he does return or sits out the season, which was a consideration. Goines has always had a number of nagging injuries, mostly to his knees, and it was thought that he could redshirt the entire 2014 season to get completely healthy. It’s still undertermined what will happen on that front, and it’s dependent on how Goines feels when he does return from the bone spurs.
Some other players definitely in UCLA’s playing rotation had been returning to the practice field after San Bernardino, like wide receiver Devin Lucien (minor concussion), Y receiver Thomas Duarte (leg injury), cornerback Marcus Rios (headaches) and defensive lineman Ellis McCarthy (conditioning), but Mora said last week they should be ready to go against Virginia.
#3 – Find the #2 Quarterback
The battle for the #2 quarterback spot has been going on between redshirt freshman Asiantii Woulard and redshirt sophomore Jerry Neuheisel since the beginning of camp. You would think UCLA wants to nail down who the #2 guy is this week to get him more reps in preparation. As we’ve said, Neuheisel represents the more knowledgeable quarterback, while Woulard has more talent and physical capability.
#4 – Sort Out the Open Outside Linebacker Spot
#5 – Determine Who Will be on Scout Team
Mora told us toward the end of last week that he and his coaching staff were going to have a meeting to determine what players would be in the playing rotation and which would be on the scout team. This means, too, which true freshmen Mora at least initially intends to redshirt.
Mora conceded that one of the spots remaining open was the fourth running back spot, with the contenders being redshirt freshman Craig Lee and true freshmen Adarius Pickett and Nathan Starks. We’ve said before, we thought that Pickett looked the best and most promising of the three, even though he had only been at running back for a short time (having been converted from defensive back the second week of San Bernardino).
With UCLA having some experienced depth now, as Mora has said, there won’t be as many true freshmen playing this season. Receiver Mossi Johnson is clearly going to play. Offensive guard Najee Toran, as we said, has a very good chance to play. He said he expected the three true freshman defensive linemen – Matt Dickerson, Jacob Tuioti-Mariner and Ainuu Taua – not to redshirt, but we’re skeptical that all three will play against Virginia, with the staff retaining the possibility of at least one of them redshirting. Linebacker Kenny Young is slotted to start at inside linebacker when UCLA is in its 3-4. We don’t expect to see linebacker Zach Whitley against Virginia, as he still is recovering from a concussion, but it’s likely he ends up playing this season. We expect Jaleel Wadood to see time on special teams against Virginia and be one of the first two DBs off the bench.