UCLA Bruins Football 2019 Season Preview Part 2: Cincinnati Running Game

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PASADENA, CA – SEPTEMBER 01: Michael Warren II #3 of the Cincinnati Bearcats is chased down from behind by Lokeni Toailoa #52 of the UCLA Bruins during a 26-17 Bearcat win at Rose Bowl on September 1, 2018 in Pasadena, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

UCLA Bruins Football 2019 Season Preview Part 2: Cincinnati Running Game

Hello again!  Welcome to part 2 of our season preview series covering UCLA’s first opponent, the Cincinnati Bearcats.  Previously, we looked at the Bearcats’ passing offense, and how they might fare against the strength of UCLA’s defensive line and secondary.  In this installment, we will take a deep dive and look at the strength of Cincinnati’s offense, their rushing attack, and examine how UCLA will attempt to stop it.

The pride and joy of the breakout season under third-year head coach Luke Fickell, the Cincinnati rushing attack set the AAC on fire in the 2018 season, with the team rushing for a combined 3,100 yards (15th in the NCAA) and an absurd 38 rushing touchdowns on the season (T-8th in the NCAA).  The Bearcats returning every single major rusher from the 2018, with the sole exception of graduated quarterback Hayden Moore, who was fifth on the team in total rushing yards.  Suffice to say, the Bearcats are loaded for bear when it comes to the run game.

Michael Warren II

When UCLA arrived at the Rose Bowl in 2018, they did not expect to face a running back like Michael Warren II (5’11, 223 lbs), who only rushed for 324 yards and a single touchdown his freshman year.  But Michael Warren caught UCLA on the chin, rushing for 142 of the 1,329 yards he would gain in the 2018 season, along with scoring all three of the Bearcats’ touchdowns.  Suffice to say, Warren is the real deal.

Warren’s greatest strength is his balance and ability to change direction.  If his line fails to create a hole for him to run through, rest assured that Warren will find daylight somewhere else, and get there in a hurry.  This ability makes him exceptionally difficult to defend, as any commitment by the defense to the point of attack just give Warren other lanes to run through.  He also utilizes this ability in the open field to put defenders on their heels and gain additional yardage.

This is not to say that Warren is slow or gets pushed around.  Warren doesn’t have elite acceleration, speed,  or strength, but he is excellent in all of those areas, which combined create an all-purpose back that you can rely on in short, long, or goalline situations.   Last but not least, Warren has excellent vision, allowing him to see holes that may be closing, and others that may be opening, and make the decision that will net his team additional yardage.  

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