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UCLA FYI : In search of a reliable run game

November 17, 2009|Chris Foster

UCLA gained 232 yards rushing in its last game, yet Coach Rick Neuheisel remains adamant that the Bruins must be able to run more consistently.

A contradiction? Not really.

UCLA churned out the yards last Saturday, but who hasn't against Washington State?

But a bigger challenge is approaching: an Arizona State defensive front that has been so good it gave up 268 yards rushing against Oregon and came away still ranked 21st nationally against the run.

The Sun Devils have held seven teams to less than 100 yards rushing -- and Washington State lost 54 yards.

"Tennessee and California are the two best defensive fronts we have seen this season," UCLA offensive line Coach Bob Palcic said. "Arizona State ranks right there with them. They don't try to trick you. They are not going to bring a lot of blitzes. They are just good at what they do."

UCLA, on the other hand, has not been good at running the ball in recent weeks, with the exception of the Washington State game.

The Bruins averaged 60 yards rushing in the three games before facing the last-place Cougars. UCLA has passed for more than 300 yards in each of the last three games.

"I think we have to have a balanced attack, so we don't have so much pressure on the quarterback with Arizona State's pass rush," Neuheisel said. "We have to find ways to counter their front seven and move the ball on the ground."

Part of the problem has been that the Bruins are nine games into the season and haven't been able to settle on a running back rotation.

Johnathan Franklin has been effective in the lead role when he's been able to hold onto the ball.

Derrick Coleman is a big back but has not been explosive and has issues with pass protection.

Milton Knox has not shown the necessary speed to impress coaches.

"We believe we have the makings of a good running game," Neuheisel said. "We just have to keep banging away to find the right combinations."

Franklin leads the team with 532 yards rushing, but his fumbles have been a concern for two weeks.

"He just needs to get his confidence back," Neuheisel said. "Sometimes talking about something so much it becomes like, 'Don't think about the blue elephant over there.' "

Another option is fullback Chane Moline, who the Bruins have been turning to in the red zone the last two weeks.

Olaniyan commits

Aramide Olaniyan, a linebacker from Woodberry Forest, Va., has committed to UCLA, according to a source familiar with his family. Olaniyan, who is 6 feet 2 and 202 pounds, is ranked 18th nationally at his position by


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