UCLA rushing attack features duo of explosive backs

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UCLA's Johnathan Franklin and fellow Bruin running back Derrick Coleman scorched the Longhorn defense for 264 rushing yards last year. (Daily Texan file photo)

Photo Credit: Maya Sugarman | Daily Texan Staff

Just a year ago UCLA walked into Austin and stunned the Longhorns 34-12, handing them their first of many losses on the season.

The Bruins were able to beat Texas on the ground that day to the tune of 264 yards and two touchdowns. The tailbacks that made the defense look sloppy, junior Johnathan Franklin and senior Derrick Coleman, are both back this season and ready to take it to Texas once again.

They know that Texas will come in with a lot of pent up emotion, wanting to earn a year’s worth of revenge in 60 minutes, but Coleman believes that won’t be a problem.

“They’re going to come into town with a chip on their shoulder because of what we did to them last year,” Coleman said.

“We’re not going to fool anybody. We’re going to come out and play and do it again.”

Following up on their performance won’t be an easy task for these two backs as they both had outstanding days against the Texas front seven. Franklin rushed for 118 yards and a touchdown, and Coleman chipped in 96 yards and a touchdown himself.

If their first two games in 2011 are any indication, the pair of backs is showing no evidence of slowing down from their performance last season.

Both have had scorching early season results, and have had exceptional performances in at least one of their two opening games.

Franklin was a bright spot for the Bruins in a disappointing opening 38-34 loss to Houston, running for 128 yards and a touchdown that game. So far, he is successfully building off of his breakout sophomore campaign where he had 1127 yards and earned him a spot on the Doak Walker preseason watch list.

The next week it was Coleman’s turn to carry the running game, as he rushed for 135 yards in the second half, punishing a smaller San Jose State team with his 240 pound frame.

“We had to hit them in the mouth. They had stopped our running game in the first half, so we had to hit them in the mouth and not let them stop our running game,” Coleman said. “The offensive line was making holes and me and Johnathan were running through them and scoring.”

Coleman and Franklin make an excellent two back combo for the Bruins. Franklin is a former sprinter with a low center of gravity making him hard to take down brings the lighting. Coleman delivers the thunder with his powerful running style and linebacker-sized body.

Texas defensive coordinator Many Diaz knows how tough it will be to stop the pair.

“They do what they do, and they’ve done it against everybody they’ve played against,” he said. They’ve done it in the first couple games this year. They’ve got a very sophisticated running attack there is a low margin for error against this bunch.”

The Bruins are amassing a staggering 252 yards a game, good for 16th overall in college football. That number is impressive considering opposing teams know the run is coming and often load the box with eight or even nine players.

That’s how talented the pair is though; they have the ability to work through the challenge of eight men in the box, subbing in and out to keep each other fresh.

This week they will look to repeat their previous success against Texas. Neither one really cares much about their personal stats though, they just want one thing—another victory over the Longhorns, and the momentum such a win would carry into the Pac 12 schedule.