No. 18 UCLA’s offensive line tunes out noise and gets better
LOS ANGELES (AP) False starts are going to happen when playing on the road, but No. 18 UCLA is still taking issue with what caused those penalties at Oregon State.
Quarterback Josh Rosen told reporters that Beavers defenders were simulating the UCLA snap count and yelling out cadences in an effort to get the offensive line to jump last weekend. The Bruins were flagged seven times for early movement in the 41-0 win, and the freshman was not shy in criticizing Oregon State for stepping over the line.
”It was kind of B.S. what they were doing on the defensive line,” Rosen said. ”All these false starts and stuff on our offensive linemen, it wasn’t on them.”
NCAA rules prohibit defenders from using ”words or signals that disconcert opponents when they are preparing to put the ball in play.” The penalty is seldom called, though Southern California linebacker Rey Maualuga memorably drew a flag in a 2007 win at Nebraska.
Rosen said he alerted Pac-12 referees to what Oregon State was doing, but no action was taken.
UCLA center Jake Brendel confirmed Rosen’s accusations on Monday, but said the game ultimately confirmed the steady improvement being made by the offensive line.
”They were doing things that really weren’t to the book, but at the same time they were a pretty good front and gave us their very best,” Brendel said. ”I think we looked pretty good in pass protection and against their run defense. Up front I thought we were pretty successful minus all the penalties.”
Brendel and his line paved the way for 284 yards rushing and allowed only one sack against Oregon State. Much of that success came after UCLA switched to a silent count starting in the second quarter to negate any further attempts to induce false starts.
A better explanation for UCLA’s continued progress up front has been the introduction of Kolton Miller to the starting lineup. The redshirt freshman made his first career start at left tackle against California and has been at right tackle the last two weeks, allowing steady Caleb Benenoch to move inside to right guard.
”Kolton is getting valuable reps right now because we were hoping he could play next season,” Brendel said. ”At the same time, he is doing a great job right now. And Caleb is Caleb. He is dependable. You know he is going to do his job.”
Miller arrived on campus with the athleticism and attitude to become a future anchor of the UCLA offensive line. Brendel just didn’t expect Miller to contribute so soon.
”We already knew he had crazy measurables,” Brendel said. ”He doesn’t even know how to do a broad jump and he jumps farther than everyone else. He is just a freak athlete, a freak in the meeting rooms, just how dedicated he is to learn his craft and study the film. He has the right mindset and the right skill set to be very successful.”