UCLA preseason preview: Offensive Line

July, 27, 2012
7/27/12
11:34
AM PT
With UCLA training camp set to begin Aug. 4 at Cal State San Bernardino, we're taking a preseason look at the roster and breaking down the Bruins, position-by-position.

We started with quarterbacks and now move to the guys expected to protect the quarterback: The offensive line.

DEPTH CHART AT THE END OF SPRING PRACTICE:

Left Tackle
Xavier Su'a-Filo (6-4, 295, So.)
Michael Padovese (6-5, 310, Fr.)

Left Guard
Wade Yandall (6-4, 315, So.)
Alexandru Ceachir (6-5, 305, So.)
Ben Wysocki (6-4, 295, Fr.)

Center
Greg Capella (6-4, 292, Jr.) OR
Jake Brendel (6-4, 295, Fr.)
Tre Hale (6-1, 308, So.)
Kody Innes (6-3, 291, So.)

Right Guard
Jeff Baca (6-3, 290, Sr.)
Alberto Cid (6-3, 310, Jr.)
Chris Ward (6-4, 305, Jr.)

Right Tackle
Torian White (6-5, 285, Fr.)
Will Oliver (6-7, 290, Fr.)
Brett Downey (6-6, 305, Sr.)

PROJECTED OPENING DAY DEPTH CHART:

Left Tackle
Xavier Su'a-Filo (6-4, 295, So.)
Simon Goines (6-7, 324, Fr.)
Michael Padovese (6-5, 310, Fr.)
Conor McDermott (6-8, 247, Fr.)

Left Guard
Alberto Cid (6-3, 310, Jr.)
Alexandru Ceachir (6-5, 305, So.)
Ben Wysocki (6-4, 295, Fr.)

Center
Jake Brendel (6-4, 295, Fr.)
Carl Hulick (6-2, 300, Fr.)
Tre Hale (6-1, 308, So.)
Kody Innes (6-3, 291, So.)

Right Guard
Greg Capella (6-4, 292, Jr.)
Chris Ward (6-4, 305, Jr.)
Colby Cyburt (6-4, 265, Fr.)

Right Tackle
Jeff Baca (6-3, 290, Sr.)
Torian White (6-5, 285, Fr.)
Brett Downey (6-6, 305, Sr.)
Will Oliver (6-7, 290, Fr.)

KEY LOSSES
Mike Harris, 14-game starter at tackle. Graduated
Kai Maiava, 13-game starter at center. Graduated
Sean Sheller, Started 13 games the last two years. Graduated
Wade Yandall, Projected starter at guard took a medical retirement (concussion).

THE SKINNY:

The uncertainty of the quarterback situation is getting a lot more attention, but the questions around the offensive line might be bigger because of a lack of depth and experience across the line. This is a unit in flux with just about every position up for grabs as training camp opens.

Xavier Su'a-Filo, the sophomore returning from a two-year absence while serving his church, is the only player locked in to his starting spot entering camp. Su'a-Filo was a Pac-10 all-freshman selection before he left but he'll have to shake off the rust that was evident in spring practice to get back to that level.

Jeff Baca, the versatile veteran, will also start, but exactly where is up in the air. He can play any position on the line, including center if needed. We're pegging him at right tackle because that seems to be the position of greatest need right now.

That leaves the guard and center spots and much of that will be determined by who can handle snapping duties. If Jake Brendel proves worthy in camp, it will enable coach Jim Mora to move Greg Capella to guard and solidify that spot. Capella started 13 games at guard and one at center last season. He was the backup at center for Kai Maiava last season and for Ryan Taylor the year before.

Should Capella be needed at center, then guard gets thinned out. Chris Ward and Alberto Cid both started at times last season, but Ward got injured and has had a difficult time getting back and Cid eventually lost the job to Wade Yandall.

With Yandall now out of the picture, one of those two will have to raise his game to starter level. And if Capella is needed at center, then the Bruins will have to hope both of them are ready to start.

The ideal situation is for Brendel to win the center job and have Capella at one guard with either Ward or Cid at the other guard. Brendel had some struggles at center in spring practice, however, so that's not a given. Carl Hulick, a hard-nosed incoming freshman, will also get a look at center.

Alexandru Ceachir, a transfer from Santa Monica College, also figures to be in the mix for playing time. He enrolled early and was a starter at guard by the end of spring practice after displaying tremendous strength. Having a year of junior college experience will work in his favor.

Torian White, a redshirt freshman, and incoming freshman Simon Goines should also challenge for starting roles. White seemed to take a step forward during spring and all reports say that Goines, a big, athletic Texan, is close to being ready to play at the Division I level.

If one of those two can win the right tackle job, it would solve some problems by allowing Baca to move back inside to his more natural guard spot. The best-case scenario would be for the Bruins to start Su'a-Filo, Capella, Brendel, Baca and White/Goines.

That would mean Brendel and White or Goines are up to the task of playing starter's minutes at the Division I level and it would give UCLA some semblance of depth on the line with Ward and Cid serving as backups.

Brett Downey should also get in the mix for minutes as a backup. He started the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl after Cid was declared academically ineligible. Will Oliver, Tre Hale, Kody Innes, Michael Padovese and Ben Wysocki are still developing and would probably only get minutes in emergency situations. Incoming freshman Colby Cyburt and Conor McDermott have to bulk up a bit and are pretty sure bets to redshirt.

Peter Yoon

ESPNLosAngeles.com

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