So I get it. UCLA football cannot catch a break. Whenever news comes we all catch our breath to wonder if it is something bad. The reaction to news of Stan Hasiak's dismissal was the predictable. There was the usual ... here we go again ... the wheel is falling off ... blah, blah, blah ... annoying, predictable comments (reminding me of pathetic Red Sox fans before they won it all). Sorry guys, I am kidding here a bit. So don't take it too personally. But instead of just panicking like bunch of wussies, I think it is worth looking at the whole situation and see what Hasiak's dismissal will mean for all our offensive line.
Before we go anywhere, read up on gbruin's through and exhaustive run down of the state of our offensive line before spring camp. After you have read through gbruin's analysis, read through B's post-spring breakdown of our offensive depth chart. Reading through that analysis, here is how the latest UCLA OL depth chart will look without Hasiak:
||Kai Maiava||Chris Ward||Mike Harris|
||Greg Capella||Jay Barlow||Brett Downey|
|Jeff Baca||Sam Saultz||Kody Innes|
Italicized - out at least for first month.
Note the chart above doesn't include names of 6 incoming freshmen and a JC transfer, who I will get into more after the jump. Is the situation ideal? Of course not. Does Hasiak's dismissal means it's the end of the world? Probably not. It does mean, the margin of error for our team becomes smaller.
Thank the Lord Sean Sheller was given a sixth year. Without him we would be in a very tough spot. We are also going to be without Baca at least for the first month of the season. So without him, it will be crucial for Connor Bradford to contribute. Will he develop just in time? That will be something to watch this summer.
Wade Yandall will also get a chance to contribute at LG. From the reports we have read in recent camps he has shown signs of promises. Bruins will also have few incoming freshmen checking in this Fall. As gbruin noted back in spring:
Our incoming freshmen, Jake Brendel, Will Oliver, Torian White, Connor McDermott, and Ben Wysocki are all expected to redshirt for the 2011 season. White, you may recall, was the prized OL recruit who shocked the Bruins on Signing Day by committing to *$c on TV, and then changing his mind and recommitting to U.C.L.A. when his family realized where his heart truly was. Of these 5, Wysocki likely has the best chance of moving up to the playing squad in the fall.
Well, I think given the situation now Wysocki and White may get legit shots for a spot in Coach Bob Palcic's regular rotation when camp opens in August. Also, don't forget about the JC recruiting Albert Cid. Provided Cid fills all his UCLA academic requirements, he could emerge as a factor in the regular rotation. Again it's not the ideal situation, but at the same time it's not the end of the world.
Another note on this. Our OL situation raises the convenient narratives of Rick Neuheisel not caring about OL and UCLA getting hit with freak injuries. Note the paragraph gbruin wrote above. Those were just the recruits (6 of them) Neuheisel brought in last year. The class from year before (2011) included Casey Griffiths, Chris Ward, Kody Innes and Wade Yandall. The class before that was made up of Xavier Su'a-Filo, Ryan Taylor, Eddie Williams, Greg Capella, and Stan Hasiak. The first class - which was essentially a Karl Dorrell/DeWayne Walker production - brought in Jeff Baca and Connor Bradford.
It is pretty clear that OL has been one of the top priorities for our coaching staff ever since they got here. They just have been digging out of a massive crater left behind by the previous staff. The Hasiak story hurts because he came in with so much hoopla and promise. He has not worked out, although who knows there may be road for redemption for Stan by making it back to Westwood (I am not going to hold my breath for now).
But what's left on our depth chart is not a hopeless cause. I think the key will be whether this group can hold it together for first 4-5 weeks before Baca is ready to return. It will be a matter of these guys toughening up and persevering through the adversities. Perhaps it will be an advantage for them because so many seem to be giving up on them before the season has even started. Thankfully for us we still have Bob Palcic coaching up these guys. I am going to be hoping for the best, praying for their good health, and anxious to see whether they can battle through the challenges. I urge rest of the Bruin fans to do the same. It's more fun than reaching for those razor blades this early in the season.