Running back Johnathan Franklin, UCLA's first 1,000-yard rusher since 2006, was noticeably absent in the second half of a 28-14 loss to USC on Saturday.
He had only one carry in the second half, after scorching USC on a 59-yard touchdown run in the first quarter. But no one was going to use the "B" word.
Franklin fumbled late in the second quarter, which was returned for a touchdown.
"I don't think he was benched at all," Coach Rick Neuheisel said. "I don't know why his playing time diminished. Coach [Wayne] Moses handles the running backs. Maybe he was dinged up. I'll have to ask."
Asked whether an injury was the reason for sitting out, Franklin said, "I have no answer." Asked whether the fumble was the reason, he said, "I'm pretty sure it was."
Moses said he did not bench Franklin, but merely wanted to get some other backs some playing time. The "other" backs had 34 yards rushing in nine carries. Franklin had 109 yards rushing.
Ayers, Moore mull NFL
Free safety Rahim Moore and linebacker Akeem Ayers, both juniors, said they will gather information to help them decide whether to declare for the NFL draft.
"I don't have a time frame," Ayers said about when he will make his decision. "This will be the first weekend I have had to think about it."
Moore said: "I will talk to my mom and pray because this is a tough decision. It's not that I want to leave; I love these boys so much. However many players are on this team, that's how many brothers I have. That's a lot of brothers."