Derrick Coleman Will Get First Start of Season for UCLA
By Chris Foster, Los Angeles Times
UCLA is headed in a different, bigger direction with its running game this week.
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.
Not counting quarterback sacks, they are still averaging only 3.9 yards a carry.
More worrisome is the ball handling.
UCLA has 26 fumbles, losing 10, and has had 10 fumbles in the last two games.
Quarterbacks are responsible for the bulk of that, with Kevin Prince, Richard Brehaut and Kevin Craft combining for 14.
Johnathan Franklin, who has started eight games at tailback, has fumbled five times, with the Bruins losing two.
Franklin is also the team's leading rusher with 510 yards and has five touchdowns.
"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."
Coleman will handle those responsibilities, at least at the start of the game.
He figured to be a big part of the running attack this season, and had 69 yards in four carries against San Diego State in the season opener.
Coleman's opportunities dipped considerably after the Kansas State game. "He needed to be better at pass protection," Coach Rick Neuheisel said.
But Coleman's ability to grind out yards in the second half against Washington impressed UCLA's coaches.
"Coach Moses was telling me at the start of the season that I am 230 pounds so I have got to run hard and get the tough yards," Coleman said. "The last game, I figured out my role. If anything gets in my way, I've got to move it."
As expected, Prince was cleared by doctors to play against Washington State. He suffered a concussion against Washington.
Defensive tackle Jerzy Siewierski (foot) did little in practice Wednesday and is listed as questionable for the game. . . . Guard Eddie Williams had surgery on his fractured right ankle Friday. He said he will resume workouts in February. . . . Wide receiver Nelson Rosario was back at practice after returning from his grandmother's funeral in Florida.