UCLA Football: Bruins Need to Rely on Mr. Reliable, Paul Perkins


The UCLA Football team has been blessed with the arm of freshman Josh Rosen, but they also cannot forget and must utilize the legs of running back Paul Perkins more than ever.

Remember back to when you were a kid and you got that one present you really wanted for your birthday or Christmas.  As soon as you got it, you immediately wanted to rip open the box and start playing with it.  Even though you already had a toy you played with for years, that old thing was discarded for that brand new thing.

The same thing has happened to UCLA football this year…

RELATED: The Road Through The Pac-12 South Division

Christmas forUCLA Football Head Coach  Jim Mora and Offensive Coordinator Noel Mazzone came in the spring and that new toy was named Josh Rosen wrapped in a number 3 jersey and shiny gold helmet.  And since then the UCLA coaches have used that new toy much to the chagrin of the rest of the Pac-12.

UCLA Bruins
UCLA Bruins /

UCLA Bruins

So while everyone gushes over Rosen that old toy Bruin fans have enjoyed for 3 years stands at the ready (literally) behind Rosen.  This toy wears a ragged, grass-stained number 24 jersey with a helmet that displays all the scrapes and scars from games gone by.

And while he will never get the fanfare of Rosen, junior running back Paul Perkins has been that old reliable weapon in the Bruins’ backfield.  UCLA has lost three games this year so it begs the question of whether Mora and Mazzone have fallen too much in love with their new toy and his powerful right arm? When the offense bogged down should UCLA have relied more on old Mr. Reliable Perkins and taken the pressure off the defense and Rosen?

In September when the Bruins were rolling, Perkins’ carries increased in each of the first three games, including his spectacular performance against BYU when he rushed 26 times for 219 yards.  But in the four games in October the Bruins got away from handing Perkins the ball.  Part of the reason was because Perkins got injured in the game against Cal.  However, the junior from Arizona never carried the ball 20 times in any of the games in October and the Bruins went 2-2.

And while Perkins was running the ball less, Rosen started chucking it around more.  In three of the four October contests, Rosen had more than 40 passing attempts.  And when you combine all these passing attempts with a stagnant offense it can lead to quick offensive possessions.  This was never more evident than in the game with Colorado when the Bruins had the ball for only 18 minutes of the game.

Sep 26, 2015; Tucson, AZ, USA; UCLA Bruins running back Paul Perkins (24) celebrates after scoring cduring the second quarter against the Arizona Wildcats at Arizona Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

The Bruin defense was injured, tired, and on the field way too much in these games.  So handing the ball to Perkins and watching him churn out first downs may have led to a win in games against Arizona State and/or Washington State.  Maybe if Rosen throws it less that 57 times and Perkins has more than 20 rushes, the defense would have been a little more fresh when the Cougs marched right down the field in a minute for the game winning score.

This all may be speculation but in Saturday’s game against Utah, Mora and Mazzone made it a point of emphasis to get Perkins the ball.  He ran it 28 times for 98 hard-fought yards including the game clinching touchdown.  More importantly, with Perkins chewing up time off the clock, the defense was able to rest and played their best game of the season.  They held the Utes to just 3 points in the second half as the Bruins got a huge road win to set up the Crosstown Showdown this week.

If Mazzone is smart he is already thinking up ways to get Perkins the ball because the USC defense is coming off a poor performance against Oregon.  It would be good for the Bruins to keep the high powered Trojan offense off the field, control the clock, and win their fourth straight game against their crosstown rival.