Now everyone can't wait to see the two-way freshman that has been receiving all the attention.
Coming off a breakout debut on offense, linebacker Myles Jack could see more time in the 13th-ranked Bruins' backfield Friday night when they try to keep their Pac-12 South hopes alive with an eighth straight home win against Washington.
James missed three games after suffering a severe ankle sprain at Utah on Oct. 3. The standout running back attempted to return against Colorado on Nov. 2, but reaggravated the injury and had to sit out again in Saturday's 31-26 win at Arizona.
UCLA's coaches had planned all along to use Jack on offense at some point, and they finally got around to it with James out of action against the Wildcats.
Jack, who was heavily recruited as a running back but wanted to have a chance to play linebacker, led the Bruins (7-2, 4-2 Pac-12) with 120 yards on six carries. His 66-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter proved to be the difference in the team's second straight victory.
On defense, the 18-year-old finished with eight tackles - one for a loss - to go along with two pass break-ups and a fumble recovery.
"It worked, but there's a saturation point," Mora said. "Everyone is going to want to see this and they think it's great, but what they forget is coaches are now prepared for it and they're going to have an answer."
It's unclear how much Jack - who was on the field between 115 to 118 plays, according to Mora - will continue to go both ways once James returns. But with James uncertain for Friday, the Bellevue, Wash., native might get another opportunity against the team located just across the lake from his hometown.
"It's depends on the situation," said Mora, whose team will try to take advantage of a Washington defense that has allowed 209.5 rushing yards per game over its last four. "We're not going to do something just to gimmick. It's got to have merit."
The Huskies also will have to deal with Brett Hundley, who has connected on 37 of 49 passes for 500 yards with four touchdowns in his last two games after throwing for a career-low 64 yards in a 42-14 loss at Oregon on Oct. 26.
Trailing No. 21 Arizona State by one game in the Pac-12 South Division, UCLA hopes to keep its conference title hopes alive by extending its home dominance in this series.
The Bruins have won by an average of 13.9 points during their seven-game run at home in the series, winning 24-23 in the most recent meeting at the Rose Bowl on Nov. 7, 2009. UCLA and Washington haven't met since the Huskies' 24-7 victory in Seattle on Nov. 18, 2010.
"It'll be a good game," said Mora, who played at Washington and began his coaching career with the Huskies. "It'll be exciting. They're a good football team and there's a lot at stake. It'll be a fun environment in the Rose Bowl."
There's no question who will be getting the ball a lot for the Huskies (6-3, 3-3). Bishop Sankey had his seventh 125-yard game of the season last Saturday, racking up 143 and a touchdown on 23 carries in a 59-7 win over Colorado.
Sankey, third in the nation at 145.0 yards per game, has totaled 384 and three scores in his last two games. He'll face a UCLA defense that allowed Arizona's Ka'Deem Carey, the country's second-leading rusher, to run for 149 yards and a touchdown.
Following a three-game losing streak to No. 5 Stanford, then-No. 2 Oregon and Arizona State, Washington has gotten back on track by racking up 1,270 total yards in blowout wins over California and the Buffaloes.
Keith Price seeks his third straight 300-yard passing game after completing 68.9 percent of his attempts for 688 yards and four touchdowns in those victories.
The Huskies, however, are likely to find things a bit more difficult against one of the top linebacking corps in the country - a unit that includes Jack, star Anthony Barr, Eric Kendricks and Jordan Zumwalt.
The Bruins have been particularly tough at the Rose Bowl, allowing an average of 16.5 points while winning their four home games.
''It's going to be a hard-fought ballgame,'' Washington coach Steve Sarkisian said. ''That's a good football team at UCLA. It won't be an easy environment to play in on a Friday night."