With UCLA soccer’s offseason winding down, it is time to begin looking forward to the 2022 marketing campaign and what lies forward for the Bruins on the gridiron. Earlier than scouting opponents and projecting the Pac-12 pecking order, it is best to look inside by choosing aside how UCLA will form up by itself sidelines.
All Bruins will probably be breaking down each place group over the subsequent two weeks, and the operating backs are up subsequent. To make amends for the positions already coated, have a look under:
Aug. 24: Quarterbacks
RB 1: Zach Charbonnet, senior
RB 2: Keegan Jones, redshirt junior
RB 3: Deshun Murrell, redshirt freshman
RB 4: TJ Harden, freshman
RB 5: Christian Grubb, redshirt junior
RB 6: Brian Kowall, redshirt sophomore
RB 7: Josiah Gonzales, redshirt freshman
Whereas coach Chip Kelly and operating backs coach DeShaun Foster stay dedicated to the two-back system heading into this season, Charbonnet would be the unchallenged No. 1 again within the Bruins’ offense.
Charbonnet broke onto the scene straight away in 2021, dashing for 106 yards and three touchdowns on simply six carries within the season opener in opposition to Hawaii. The previous Michigan switch then went on to grab the beginning job and end the yr with 1,334 yards and 13 touchdowns from scrimmage.
After all, with the best way Kelly and Foster plan to unfold the workload, Charbonnet will not be getting all of the touches this season. However not like the previous few years, when the Bruins had Brittain Brown because the dependable No. 2 choice, issues are much more unsure in 2022.
As a substitute of getting a real two-man backfield with Charbonnet because the No. 1 and another person because the No. 2, UCLA may break up the “No. 2” function between a number of backs.
Jones is probably the most veteran ball-carrier behind Charbonnet, and Kelly and Foster have praised his efficiency thus far in fall camp. The Tennessee native has rushed for 139 yards and a landing on 41 carries whereas including 59 yards and one landing on 5 catches over the previous two seasons.
At 5-foot-9, 175 kilos, Jones is primarily a pace again, and he may begin to choose up reps as a route runner and go catcher this fall regardless of his prior inefficiencies.
Murrell is extra of an influence again, as is true freshman TJ Harden. For Murrell, that largely has to do along with his playstyle all through highschool, whereas Harden is 6-foot-2 and 210 kilos who was constructed for that function.
In all probability, all three of these reserves will see the sphere in 2022, with Jones in all probability getting the lion’s share of the second-string snaps.
If receiver Kazmeir Allen will get extra time at operating again than he did final yr – which is definitely within the query – then that can doubtless eat into Jones’ workload. A lot of his carries may come off of finish arounds and choices, although, so it stays to be seen how the veteran speedster will impression the remainder of the true operating backs.
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Kowall and Gonzales – a brand new walk-on arrival out of Turlock Excessive Faculty (CA) – will in all probability solely ever get a shot throughout particular groups or rubbish time.
Charbonnet has been pegged as a darkish horse Heisman candidate, and if he had been returning to the identical offense he performed in final yr, that would definitely be warranted.
Each of UCLA’s beginning tackles from a yr in the past are gone, although, and the passing recreation will probably be present process vital modifications with its prime targets over the center out of the image as nicely. How Kelly decides to tweak the offense to account for the turnover will doubtless impression Charbonnet’s manufacturing, even when he’s simply as proficient as he was a yr in the past.
An elevated emphasis on choice runs, finish arounds, exterior passes and extra may all eat into Charbonnet’s beforehand huge numbers, and a new-look offensive line might not be capable of open up as many holes as final yr’s did.
Nonetheless, Charbonnet is without doubt one of the most proficient runners within the nation, and a delicate begin to the yr may give him an opportunity to each pad his stats and alter to a brand new offense. By the point convention play rolls round, UCLA may very simply have all of the kinks labored out, and he might be simply as environment friendly as he was in 2021, solely with extra quantity.
Charbonnet racked up 203 carries in 2021, and that was with Brown beginning the primary few video games and continuously consuming into his touches. Whereas Jones, Murrell, Harden and Allen will probably be round in 2022, Charbonnet must be leaned on slightly extra persistently than he was previously.
Joshua Kelley’s 229 carries in 2019 as a measuring stick, Charbonnet ought to finish this yr with someplace round 235. Going off his profession 5.4 yards per carry, Charbonnet may go for roughly 1,300 yards on the bottom alone this season, plus one other 12 to fifteen touchdowns.
That might put Charbonnet at nearly 2,500 yards for his two-year UCLA profession, sandwiching him between Kelley and Maurice Jones-Drew on this system’s all-time leaderboards. To interrupt into the highest 10, Charbonnet must exceed 1,400 yards, which might be potential if he stays wholesome and performs in a bowl recreation.
Charbonnet’s improved receiving expertise may give him one other 250 yards on 30 catches, each slight enhancements from final yr. Jones and Allen will in all probability chip away at his manufacturing in that class, although, placing a tough cap on his receiving numbers in 2022.
Jones may finish the yr with 325 yards on 75 carries or so, whereas Murrell and Harden’s contributions will in all probability be extra inconsistent and diversified.
Quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson will virtually absolutely be the group’s second-leading rusher, when it comes to makes an attempt, yards and touchdowns. Including in no matter Allen brings to the desk, and Kelly has loads of numerous choices at his disposal within the operating recreation.
UCLA led the Pac-12 in dashing with 220.1 yards per recreation in 2021, and they’re very a lot in line to contend for the highest spot within the convention once more in 2022. Their total numbers might slip a hair, simply due to a possible elevated emphasis on several types of passes and what which may do to the operating recreation, however Kelly has made the bottom recreation his bread and butter ever since arriving in Westwood, and that should not change all an excessive amount of this fall.
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