When UCLA offensive line coach Adrian Klemm was asked about the play of his guys during the 28-20 win against Virginia on Saturday, he didn’t mince words.
“That’s probably one of the sh---iest performances I’ve been apart of as a player or coach,” he said.
Klemm has been UCLA’s offensive line coach since 2011. He's coached in the college game since 2008. And before that, he was an offensive lineman in the NFL for seven seasons. So, for him to call out last week’s performance the way he did really speaks to just how bad UCLA was.
Virginia had five sacks, a bunch of quarterback hurries and held the UCLA offense to just one touchdown. The running game had 116 yards, but just 3.0 yards per carry. Quarterback Brett Hundley had 39 of those yards and the touchdown. If it weren't for three defensive scores in the first half, UCLA would have lost the game.
“The fact of the matter is, you’re here for a reason, just like I’m here for a reason,” Klemm said. “I take a tremendous amount of pride in what I do and the product I put out there. And they’re a reflection of me.
“When people get all annoyed with our play calling and everything, well what do you want to call when it’s third-and-long frickin’ 20 times in a game? Like I said, it all falls back on our shoulders just like this game. If we’re rolling, it’s because of us. We’re overworked and often underappreciated, but the thing of the matter is, if they’re not talking about us, it’s a good thing. And they were talking about us too often last week.”
UCLA was missing starting center Jake Brendel, who had started 27 straight games but strained his MCL during training camp a couple weeks ago. Sophomore Scott Quessenberry struggled in his first game at center. The Bruins also stared true freshman Najee Toran at right guard. And the inexperience showed, though Klemm wasn’t ready to use that as an excuse. He said his linemen prepared hard for the game and looked strong in practice. He also noted that on film his guys watched Virginia stunt and blitz on nearly every down and they didn’t see even half of that last Saturday.
“I knew we’d struggle a little bit,” Klemm said. “There were some changes at some key positions. I knew we’d struggle a little bit but I didn’t think it would be to that degree. There are some plays we ran well, but overall, it wasn’t a good job by any means and it starts with just being a little more focused. It wasn’t so much from a physical aspect, but from a mental aspect. When things went downhill it all just started snowballing.”
UCLA will have a chance to get its offense back on track against a Memphis team that beat Austin Peay 63-0 in its season opener, but hasn’t had a winning season since 2007 and hasn’t had more than four wins in any of the past five seasons. But that game might not be a good gauge to determine whether the offensive line has improved enough to face the likes of Texas on Sept. 13 or a tough conference slate that begins with Arizona State on Sept. 25.
“There are no excuses, we just need to get better,” Klemm said. “No matter who’s in there or what our situation is, the fact of the matter is everybody here is on scholarship and they’re getting paid to play. And when their time comes and their number’s called they have to perform at a certain level, and that’s the expectation if you’re going to be out here every single day.”
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