UCLA Football: Will the Run Game Be More Effective vs UNLV?


Can the UCLA Football team get things going with the run game against the UNLV Rebels after coming out slow against Virginia?

By now, most of you will read about the glorious triumph of the Bruins and their new star Josh Rosen. While it is all well deserved, and to be honest, very fun to read about, it is time to get to nit-picking and start looking at other aspects of the opening win vs the University of Virginia, and the upcoming match-up vs UNLV.

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UCLA Bruins

Entering the season, UCLA was returning the PAC-12 leading rusher, as well as the most experienced offensive line in the nation. Almost everyone predicated a dominant running game against a lower tier ACC school, especially considering UCLA was breaking in a new quarterback.

Things did not go as expected.

Virginia clearly focused on stopping the running game, stacking the box with defenders in order to stop the trio of Paul Perkins, Soso Jamabo and Bolu Olorunfunmi. The strategy did work in the first half, as Perkins had difficulty finding any major openings. In fact, Perkins had more receiving yards than rushing yards in the first half.

The Bruin running backs found a bit more success in the second half, as Jamabo broke free for a runs of 26 and 39 yards, showing his potential by breaking arm tackles and weaving his way through traffic. Bolu provided a change of pace, as he ran through tackles with a booming pace.

It wasn’t a terrible showing, but knowing the talent on the O-Line and running back unit, we all know there should be more than 152 yards against lesser teams.

It wasn’t a terrible showing, but knowing the talent on the O-Line and running back unit, we all know there should be more than 152 yards against lesser teams.

This will change against UNLV.

We always want to be respectful to our opponents, but in reality, this game shouldn’t be close. There is a substantial talent gap between the two teams, and I fully expect our running game to take off. UCLA will not need to pass the ball 30+ times to reach the end zone, nor should they risk an injury to Josh Rosen.

UNLV faced Northern Illinois this past Saturday, and gave up 152 yards on 7.2 YPC to NIU’s starting back. This is welcomed news to UCLA’s offensive line and Paul Perkins. Look for Perkins to get at least 20 carries, with each of the freshman carrying the rock 5-10 times.

Sep 25, 2014; Tempe, AZ, USA; UCLA Bruins running back Nate Starks (23) against the Arizona State Sun Devils at Sun Devil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Now, the wildcard is Nate Starks, who was in street clothing, sitting in the Rose Bowl stands against Virginia. If he is out of the dog house, expect him to take away from the carries of the other 3 featured backs.

This group is too talented not to take control of the game against UNLV this Saturday, I expect Perkins to gain close to 150 yards, with Soso and Bolu acting as a freshman mock of Lighting and Thunder. The Bruins will run the ball with authority in order to protect Rosen, and get the ball rolling in time for a tougher match-up with BYU.

If any of you are traveling to Vegas to support our team, you’ll be with many other Bruin fans, as it is expected that 80% of all tickets were sold to Blue and Gold supporters. Have a blast and be loud!

Let me know how you think the UCLA running backs fare against UNLV this upcoming Saturday, and as always, Go Bruins!

Next: The Virginia vs UCLA Football Report Card

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