At this point, UCLA head coach Rick Neuheisel must be wondering if he’ll have enough healthy bodies to even field a team for the season opener.
The Bruins suffered yet another injury to a key starter when center Kai Maiava fractured his ankle during the team’s scrimmage Saturday. The offensive lineman faces surgery to repair the damage, and the junior could be lost for a significant period of time.
“This is really upsetting, to be honest with you,” starting quarterback Kevin Prince said. “Kai is the anchor of the offensive line. Without him, we'll be OK, but it won’t be the same. He brought the mentality you like to have, that dominating mentality. He's experienced. We're going to miss him.”
Maiava, who started 12 games last season after transferring from Colorado, is the fourth projected starter whose regular season will be interrupted due to injury or, in one instance, an off-the-field issue. Defensive end Datone Jones was lost indefinitely to a broken foot, guard Jeff Baca is dealing with a stress reaction in the fibula of his right leg and right tackle Mike Harris will miss the opener against Kansas State due to a suspension.
Senior left guard Ryan Taylor is likely to take over Maiava’s starting spot at center.
The Bruins will now begin the season with only one lineman in the lineup who started at least six games last season, right guard Eddie Williams.
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