The return of center Sam Marrazzo has caused some reshuffle along UCLA’s offensive line.
While the moves were not part of last Monday’s two-way depth chart prior to the Fresno State game, changes were made on Saturday night on the field. All of those moves were confirmed on Monday’s depth chart as the 24th-ranked Bruins (2-1) prepare for this week’s Pac-12 opener (2-1 overall, 1-0 Pac-12) at Stanford.
After missing non-conference games against Hawaii and LSU to start the season, Mararazzo made his first of the season against Fresno. He participated during the pregame warmup, which indicated he might be available but was not announced during a pre-recorded starting lineup segment on the video board.
“I think Sam gives us a lot of stability,” said coach Chip Kelly. “He’s such a smart player and really one of the leaders in that group.”
Quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson photographed John Gaines II during Marazzo’s absence.
“Sam brings all the knowledge and all the technique and stuff to the offensive line room,” Thompson-Robinson said. “It’s definitely great to have him out there. We’ve had that chemistry and that relationship already from years ago so it’s definitely great to have Sam back there.”
Marazzo started all seven games for UCLA in 2020 but suffered an injury in the season finale against Stanford.
“I think everyone was very happy for Sam,” Kelly said. “They’ve seen her working so hard on her rehab and what she has to do. She didn’t participate in spring practice.”
Marazzo began working back slowly by attending fall camp but was “not ready to play” until after the goodbye week.
John Gaines II went on to start on right guard, in which position he started four games last year.
Antonio Maffei started the first two games on right guard but moved to a backup role with the return of Gaines. Duke Clemens was a backup right guard but is now listed as a backup center.
Baraka Beckett is a new name to appear on the depth charts this week after being listed as the backup for left guard Paul Grattan Jr.
Sial Toupaki was listed as a backup for the first three games, but was sidelined for Monday’s practice with an undisclosed injury.
UCLA’s secondary was a topic of conversation in the aftermath of the damage to Fresno.
The secondary allowed quarterback Jake Hanner to throw for 455 and two touchdowns in a 40–37 loss. Hainer led the Bulldogs on a nine-game, 75-yard game-winning drive during the final minute.
He completed five out of six passes, including four or more yards out of 10.
“We were a little off,” Kelly said. “We were trying to keep the ball in front of us and rallying for tackles. This is something we need to tighten up this week. “
UCLA safety Stephen Blaylock and defensive backs watched the film of the final drive and noticed that they were “too lax” with their coverage.
“We need to limit those yards and take a better look for ourselves,” Blaylock said. “They were looking for holes and we weren’t running towards the ball and keeping them inbound when they had a timeout left.”
Blaylock and defensive back Obi Aboh admitted that loose coverage was not part of the game plan.
“I would give us more credit for this than the game plan,” Abo said. “It wasn’t something we took into the game saying that we were going to do. Some circumstances only determine what technology we were going to use.”
The secondary also had to play a part of the game without protection Quentin Lake, who suffered an undisclosed injury in the first half and did not return.
“He’s the leader and everyone looks up to him,” Blaylock said. “Everyone loves him out there but people step in like Kenny (Churchwell III). He came in and made a play.”
Churchwell III had an interception and a return of 33 yards with 1:05 remaining in the second quarter.
“Kenny came in and defended himself,” said defensive back Quarantz Knight. “He made great plays.”
Lake’s official position for Saturday against Stanford has not been determined even after being listed as a starter on the depth chart. Lake was a limited participant in the exercise earlier this week.