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UCLA hopes to control the ball against Arizona

UCLA FOOTBALL FYI

The Bruins want to keep Wildcats quarterback Nick Foles, who has 2,255 yards passing, off the field. UCLA has allowed opposing quarterbacks to complete 68% of their passes this season.

October 17, 2011|By Chris Foster
  • UCLA tailback Johnathan Franklin follows the blocking of teammate Ryan Taylor during a Pac-12 game against Washington State.
UCLA tailback Johnathan Franklin follows the blocking of teammate Ryan… (Luis Sinco / Los Angeles…)

There is one sure way for UCLA to keep Arizona quarterback Nick Foles from dominating Thursday's game.

Don't let him have the ball.

The Bruins' defense seems a perfect fit for Foles, whose 2,255 yards passing is second only to Houston's Case Keenum. UCLA has allowed opposing quarterbacks to complete 68% of their passes this season. Only five Football Bowl Subdivision teams have allowed a higher percentage.

Ball control is on the Bruins' mind.

"If we run the ball, we will control the game and we will get the defense tired and we will put points on the board," UCLA running back Johnathan Franklin said. "If we run the ball, we will get a big win Thursday."

Asked whether UCLA is capable of doing that, Coach Rick Neuheisel said, "We need to be capable of that."

The Bruins rank 28th nationally, averaging 194.5 yards per game.

Franklin is halfway to a second consecutive 1,000-yard season, with 509 yards in six games. Derrick Coleman, his backup, has 330 yards this season, including two 100-yard games.

Yet, even with all the success on the ground, UCLA ranks only 81st out of 120 teams nationally in time of possession (28 minutes 40 seconds).

Washington State was able to control the ball with a short passing game in UCLA's last game.

"That'll go around as a formula," Neuheisel said. "So we have to make sure we understand that. It puts some pressure on us."

The run game will feel the brunt of that.

"The key will be to drive up the number of plays we run," Neuheisel said. "We need to be on the field longer."

Franklin said the Bruins are ready to do that, saying, "Nobody has seen the whole UCLA offense and defense playing together yet. We have great running backs and a great offensive line. What we've done so far only shows our potential."

Carter evolves

Defensive tackle Donovan Carter made the first start of his UCLA career against Washington State, completing a transition that started three years ago.

Carter came to UCLA as a linebacker but switched positions after the 2009 season. Besides having to learn new techniques, he had to add weight. He put on 40 pounds.

"That's harder than it sounds because you have to do it the right way," said Carter, who is 6 feet 2, 295 pounds.

The payoff came against Washington State. Carter had six tackles, five unassisted, against the Cougars.

"I knew that the move wasn't going to be easy," Carter said. "I was a linebacker my whole life. I had to learn to take on double teams. I had to figure out the mind-set that it's a fight every play in the trenches."

Quick hits

UCLA's game against California on Oct. 29 will kick off at 4 p.m. and will be televised on Prime Ticket. … The NCAA has denied defensive tackle Brandon Willis' request to be immediately eligible. Willis transferred from North Carolina during the summer after transferring from UCLA to North Carolina in the spring. He will have three years of eligibility remaining.

chris.foster@latimes.com

twitter.com/cfosterlatimes

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