UCLA running back Jordon James carries the ball as Utah linebackers Jared… (Rick Bowmer / Associated…)
UCLA came away from its first three games in relatively good shape health-wise. But the Bruins lost two key players in a 34-27 victory over Utah on Thursday.
Tackle Torian White suffered a broken ankle in the second quarter. Running back Jordon James hobbled off the field with an ankle injury late in the first half.
The extent of James’ injury is not known. White will be out “awhile,” offensive line coach Adrian Klemm said.
James came into the game as the nation’s fifth-leading rusher, averaging 141 yards per game. Paul Perkins plugged that hole -- and ran through some holes. He finished with 92 yards rushing, 36 coming a fourth-quarter drive that ended in a 47-yard field goal by Ka’imi Fairbairn that broke a 24-24 tie.
Mora said Perkins “is really good inside the tackles. He’s not easy to tackle. He’s a slashy runner who gets skinny in the hole and he fights for extra yards.”
If James is out indefinitely, the Bruins could also get a boost from Damien Thigpen, who returned from a knee injury on Thursday. Mora had hoped to get Thigpen “four or five carries.” He saw the field for one play and did not get the ball.
"That was just the way the game went,” Mora said.
White’s loss makes the Bruins a lot younger on the line.
Simon Goines moved to White’s left tackle spot and Caleb Benenoch played right tackle. That left the Bruins with two first-year freshmen, Benenoch and guard Alex Redmond, playing next to each other.
“It isn’t so much that Caleb isn’t ready to play tackle, it’s just you got two kids who a couple months ago were trading Pokemon cards in high school,” Klemm said. “They know their stuff, but we were in a situation where there wasn’t much communication. We had to go on silent counts and they couldn’t rely on help.”
Klemm said, “Alex and Caleb are doing really well. They are not just true freshmen, they are good linemen.”
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