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UCLA hope to run tougher against Pac-12’s toughest

By in Press Enterprise on October 26, 2017

By Thuc Nhi Nguyen

LOS ANGELES >> DeShaun Foster can’t repeat his exact reaction to watching Bolu Olorunfunmi stand on a defender’s shoulders while running into the end zone last weekend against Oregon. Let’s just say the UCLA running backs coach was nervous.

“Jumping over guys is popular right now,” said Foster, a seven-year NFL vet. “It’s an epidemic right now and hopefully we’ll fix it, though.”

Foster has already helped fix plenty about UCLA’s running game in a short time. While UCLA (4-3, 2-2 Pac-12) ranks just ninth in the Pac-12 in rushing with 129.5 yards per game, the Bruins are averaging 4.3 yards a carry and have 15 rushing touchdowns through seven games, already surpassing last season’s total of 13.

Whether it’s a leaping touchdown that goes viral or Soso Jamabo’s 4-yard rumble in which he took on two Oregon defenders at the goal line (with the help of offensive lineman Andre James), the Bruins are trying to adopt a tough mentality on the ground.

“You have to have (toughness) as a running back,” Foster said. “It’s a tough position. … There’s always some contact and you’re also an extension of the O-Line, which is a bunch of tough guys too. It’s just a mentality getting in there and wanting to be physical and being physical throughout the game.”

UCLA’s rushing production has steadily climbed from 63 yards against Texas A&M to a season-high 190 against Arizona two weeks ago. There was one hiccup against Colorado, during which the Bruins rushed for only 95 yards on 35 carries.

The running backs and offensive linemen dedicated themselves during the offseason to improving on last year’s rushing attack that was second-worst in the country.

“This year they made it a point of emphasis to make sure the run game gets better and work hard,” Olorunfunmi […]    

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