Spaulding Roundup: Shakeup At RB Rotation, Prince Is Ready & Other Notes

We have some news on the running back front. Looks like the coaches are sending some clear message re. fumble issues we have experienced in recent weeks. Per the LA Times this am, Derrick Coleman is going to get the start against Washington State:

Derrick Coleman, a 6-foot, 230-pound sophomore, will get his first start of the season when the Bruins play at Washington State.

UCLA has struggled with its running game in recent weeks, and the number of fumbles has become a concern.

That has brought the focus to Coleman, who had seven carries in five games before he gained 49 yards in 13 carries against Washington on Saturday.

"We need to see more yards after contact and we obviously need to see more security with the ball," running backs coach Wayne Moses said. "We just need some tough, hard-nosed, old-fashioned football."

Of Coleman, Moses said, "We want to see what he has got this week and we'll assess things from there."

The Bruins have run for only 200 yards the last three games combined.

I like this move for few reasons. First, I think it sends a clear message to the entire team that the coaches will held players accountable for their on field mistakes. Christian Ramirez had fumble issues against Arizona and he lost his spot in the rotation. Jet Ski has shown a lot of promise this season and he certainly seems to have the speed and athleticism to emerge as one of the better Bruin RB we have seen in recent years. However, he has to hold on to the ball and cannot afford to cost his team by loss of focus.  So, this move will get his attention and it sounds like he is dealing with it in a very positive way:

"You have to have the discipline to hold onto the ball," Franklin said. "For my part, when I get in traffic, running down the field, I got to cover the tip and tuck that ball away."

I also like the move because I also enjoy watching Coleman's style of power running. He still needs to do a better job of picking up blitzes and he also needs to learn to fall forward when he gets hit. If you notice Coleman's running you will see he usually tends to fall backwards as soon as he gets hit (check the goal line plays in the Oregon game). I think those are issues he will address and get better at over the years. Going into Washington State game this weekend if he can gets us 4-5 yards per carry whenever he is called on, it will be a huge help for our offense. If we serve a steady dose of Coleman and mix in with JetSki, Knox and Thigpen, the running game will be fun to watch. More after the jump.

While Coleman is getting to set start, his back field team-mate Prince has been cleared for Saturday:

Redshirt freshman quarterback Kevin Prince was cleared for Washington State after suffering a concussion in the second quarter of last Saturday's victory.

Prince was injured while scrambling for an 8-yard gain as he dived head-first toward the ground and collided helmets with Washington linebacker Donald Butler. Against Tennessee in Week 2, Prince broke his jaw on another hit while going to the turf helmet first.

UCLA now is expected to reintroduce the Slip 'n Slide at practice today, a tactic Prince utilized in preseason camp.

"Hopefully, they bring out the Slip 'n Slide, that'll be fun for everybody," he said. "I'm sure coach will want me to practice it. I'll pretty much tell you right now I'll be sliding on Saturday."

Sure hope so Kevin. The entire BN is going to get anxious every time he takes off for a run. He clearly has the mobility to pick up extra yards but there is just need to go all Cade McNown and slam right into opposing LBs. Running out of bounce or sliding will be just fine (for now).

From the Washington State side there is a good story on Jared Karstetter, a sophomore wide receiver who is having a great individual season despite his team going through an extremely tough rebuilding season:

[C]urrently, WSU ranks ninth in the Pacific-10 Conference with 195.3 yards passing per game (Oregon is 10th at 184.2), and the Cougars have thrown more interceptions (12) than touchdown passes (10).

All of which makes Jared Karstetter’s season that much more remarkable. Karstetter, a sophomore wide receiver from Spokane’s Ferris High School, is tied with Oregon State star James Rodgers for the Pac-10 lead with six touchdown catches.

Half of Karstetter’s touchdown grabs accounted for all three Cougar touchdowns the past two games. In the waning minutes of Saturday’s 48-7 loss at Arizona, the Cougars avoided their first shutout of the year when Karstetter got half a step on cornerback Mike Turner at midfield, plucked a long Marshall Lobberstael pass with his right hand, tucked it away and zoomed off for a 64-yard touchdown.

"Great catch," WSU coach Paul Wulff said. "A really great catch. He’s doing a good job."

Karstetter leads the Cougars (1-8, 0-6 Pac-10) with 420 receiving yards. True freshman Gino Simone is the team leader in receptions with 30, but Karstetter is second with 27.

"He’s definitely a playmaker," Lobbestael said.

I am assuming ATV, Price, Moore and co. have been preparing for Karstetter and Simone. Hopefully they are not going to give him 7-8 yard cushion so that they can get carved up by the second worst passing offense in the conference.

That brings to my closing note for this am. Yesterday we talked about how our offense can't afford to make any mistakes on the road. Glad the coaches are addressing the fumble issue by sending a clear message to our RBs. Now we will also need the defense to set the tone. Seems like we have been writing that line every game week over last two months only to lament how the defense waited for a while to adjust and react to the opposing team. Bullough is not going to get a better opportunity to get his defense back in to swing of things and get back in the groove it found itself in against Tennessee. Let's hope he can take advantage of that opportunity this Saturday setting up for a solid end to 09-10 season.

GO BRUINS.

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