California running back Shane Vereen gets into the end zone despite the… (Luis Sinco / Los Angeles…)
Reporting from Berkeley — California's Shane Vereen tuned up for a homecoming by running all over a hometown team.
Vereen, who comes back to Southern California to face USC next week, rushed for 151 yards and two touchdowns in a 35-7 victory over UCLA.
"I know more than half the [UCLA] team," said Vereen, who attended Valencia High School. "I was playing against some of these guys since I was a little kid. [Wide receiver] Taylor Embree and I are best friends. We've been talking trash to each other all week."
Vereen got the last word.
The Bruins knew that Vereen was a big part of the Bears' offense. They still couldn't stop him. He had 103 yards in the first half, scoring on runs of one and four yards, as California led 28-0 lead at halftime.
"He's just another in a line of great backs for Cal," UCLA free safety Rahim Moore said.
Vereen was the backup to Jahvid Best last season. But he stilled gained 952 yards rushing and scored 12 touchdowns, filling in three games when Best was injured.
"He has been a productive, consistent back, be it in a backup role or as a starter toward the end of last season," California Coach Jeff Tedford said. "He's very dependable and very tough."
The Bruins got a dose of that.
Vereen scored on a one-yard run on the Bears' first possession. He then scored on a four-yard run in the second quarter, stiff-arming cornerback Aaron Hester at the five-yard line before bursting to the goal line.
"I got enough on [Hester] to hold him off," Vereen said. "Then I saw other guys coming and said to myself, 'It's time to go.'"
Vereen also had three receptions for 51 yards. His 31-yard catch set up a one-yard touchdown run by quarterback Kevin Riley for a 21-0 lead. Vereen also rushed for 38 yards on that drive.
"He's a different runner than he was last year," UCLA strong safety Tony Dye said. "He's shiftier."
Vereen said his big change was not to try to be patient as a runner.
"I'm taking what the defense gives me and not trying to do too much," Vereen said. "Those 90-yard touchdowns are great, but those four-yard runs that move the chains are just as good."