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UCLA on a “Continual Quest” To Get More Yards on the Ground

Plus, Josh Rosen injury update.

UCLA v Arizona State
Nate Starks and the Bruin backs only rush for 40 yards on 17 carries against Arizona State.
Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Facing the league’s best rushing defense while burdened with the league’s worst rushing offense, UCLA tried to mask its deficiencies on the ground by calling for a pass on 60 plays from scrimmage against Arizona State last weekend, something you might expect from Mike Leach.

It didn’t quite work.

Even Leach, one of the original co-architects of the Air Raid offense, has his team running the ball better than UCLA so far on the year, at 4.97 yards per carry, a number far more desirable than the Bruins’ 2.95 yards per carry, and good enough for fifth in the conference to the Bruins dead-last ranking.

"You have to be able to run the ball a little bit when you want to throw it," Mora said to reporters on Monday. "You have to be able to make people respect the run in order to open things up in the pass game."

The question asked was about Washington State, but the answer was about his own team.

"We’re trying everything that we can," Mora said on the topic of his struggling run game. "Are we emphasizing the right things? Are we conceptually doing it right? Are we practicing, do we have the right people in there, are we teaching it the right way? It’s a continual quest to try to improve in everything."

Mora believes the problems aren’t just coming from the offensive line, but all aspects of the run game. The mistakes happen all over, one guy missing a block here, one guy missing a block there, the backs not hitting the hole quickly enough.

"It’s a function of all eleven," Mora said. "And really it’s more than all eleven, it’s a function of all of us—the coaches, starting with me, and players—making sure that we’re doing the right things all the time."

The Cougar run defense is allowing only 4.03 yards per carry, ranking 4th in the conference at the midway point of the season. Not Arizona State good, but good enough to cause issues for the Bruins’ unsteady rushing attack in Pullman if they can’t somehow turn things around.

"Greater attention to detail, greater focus, being more demanding and accountable—all of us—those are things that should help us," Mora said.

Josh Rosen Is "Hopeful" for Saturday

Mora didn’t disclose much detail about the extent of Josh Rosen’s injuries from Saturday night, other than to say that his first-half injury was to the "lower body" and his second-half injury was to the "upper body." That would comprise the whole body, by the way, for those of you keeping score at home.

The team is optimistic about his chances to be available for the game this weekend.

"That’s what I’ve heard, optimistic he plays this weekend, but you know, I’m not 100% sure," center Scott Quessenberry said. "We’ll see going forward."

"He’s a tough kid, and he’s competitive, you know, and he has a will to get back in there," Mora said. "So I’d be surprised if he doesn’t do everything he can to be back on the field Saturday night."

Mora also said that he expected Takkarist McKinley and Jaleel Wadood to be available against Washington State, and that all the backs should be available (i.e., no impending mystery suspension).

He also said that he believes the team will get Kolton Miller back at some point this season.

See more from Coach Mora, Scott Quessenberry, and Adarius Pickett below. Videos are courtesy of Edward Lewis of Bruin Sports Report. Thanks Ed!

HC Jim Mora:

C Scott Quessenberry:

DB Adarius Pickett: