Unlike in spring practices, UCLA’s offensive line no longer seems precariously thin.
The arrival of transfers Khadere Kounta (Old Dominion) and Jake Wiley (Colorado) has bolstered a unit in heavy flux with the departures of Raiqwon O’Neal, Jon Gaines II and Atonio Mafi to the NFL.
Kounta seems entrenched at left tackle. Wiley could be the starting right guard while also splitting time at right tackle with likely starter Garrett DiGiorgio. Benjamin Roy and Purdue transfer Spencer Holstege appear locked in a battle to become the starting left guard alongside veteran center Duke Clemens.
“We’ve been rotating a lot, guys getting reps everywhere just trying to find the right fit, the right five guys to play,” Clemens said. “Everyone has been exceeding expectations so far, I think, and if they’re not, everyone’s working hard and that’s the thing we don’t have to question over here, so I’m happy about that.
“I think we’re deep and if someone goes down, we’ll have someone else to step up and be ready to go.”
Can the offensive line continue a dominant run under Kelly in which it has helped the Bruins’ rushing offense finish in the top 14 nationally in each of the last three years? Last season, that line paved the way for a run game that averaged 237.2 yards per game, ranking No. 6 in the nation.
“I think we already have the chemistry,” DiGiorgio said, “so I think we’ll be pretty close to that spot as last year, if not even better.”