UCLA’s depth at running back could be a concern against Arizona

LOS ANGELES — The UCLA football team’s running game was a highlight in the 50-36 road victory over Arizona State Saturday, especially without running back Zach Charbonnet.

While Charbonnet was practicing and appeared to be a full go during the media viewing period Tuesday, the same could not be said about the other running backs.

Charbonnet was seen moving well and displayed good footwork while running a route to catch passes.

Charbonnet could be a game-time decision for Saturday’s game against Arizona (Fox Ch. 11, 7:30 p.m. PT) at the Rose Bowl.

Without Charbonnet, UCLA’s offense recorded 402 rushing yards but some of those contributors in the backfield were sidelined during the media viewing period on Tuesday.

Kazmeir Allen was one of three players spotted at practice on an exercise bike before working with a coach off the side and using a battle rope while sitting in a chair.

Allen limped off the field during the second quarter of the ASU game and was seen going into the medical tent before he managed to return on the Bruins’ next possession and continued to have an impactful performance.

He was UCLA’s leading rusher with 11 carries for 137 yards and a touchdown against the ASU defense. He was also the Bruins’ second-leading receiver with four catches for 63 yards.

“I’m just a ball player, at the end of the day,” Allen told reporters after the victory. “I just like the ball in my hands. I (didn’t know) Zach was unavailable until the beginning of the game. … I’ve played running back before so it wasn’t like, ‘I’m kind of nervous.’ No. I like the ball. It was pretty normal for me.”

Allen was converted to receiver this season, after spending the last four seasons as a running back. Coach Chip Kelly has mentioned this season that Allen has worked with the receivers this season but will occasionally work with the running backs. Allen said after Saturday’s game that he took a few reps at running back during a practice last week.

Keegan Jones was also injured in the second quarter, but he did return to the game. He was seen alongside Allen and running back T.J. Harden at practice.

Injury report from UCLA football practice today. Will have to keep an eye out on running back depth this week. Three running backs working off to the side today.

— James H. Williams covers UCLA football (@JHWreporter) November 8, 2022

Jones had 12 carries for 98 yards and a touchdown. He also caught a 3-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter against ASU.

Harden didn’t play at Arizona State and had just one carry against Stanford in his most recent outing. Running back DeShun Murrell did participate in practice and was seen catching passes, despite having a small, club-like cast on his left hand.

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Cornerback Devin Kirkwood was not seen on the field at practice during the media viewing period at Tuesday’s practice. Kelly said the sophomore was unavailable on Monday. He played in the road game but didn’t record a statistic.

Kirkwood was still listed as a starter when UCLA’s two-deep depth chart was released Monday. Redshirt freshman Jaylin Davies could be a possible replacement if Kirkwood is unavailable.

Davies, a Rancho Cucamonga alum, transferred from Oregon this offseason and has already made an impact as a reserve defensive back this season.

He has recorded 20 tackles and two interceptions this season.

“I just prepare and run to the ball like (the coaches) tell me to,” Davies said about his interceptions this season. “I kind of have a hunch on where things may go and things just fall into place.”

He also recovered a fumble in the Utah game on Oct. 8 and returned the ball 37 yards before being tackled at the 1-yard line.

“I was definitely disappointed (about being caught at the 1-yard line),” Davies said with a smile. “I just have to finish.”

Charbonnet scored on a 1-yard run on the next play and help put the game out of reach against the Utes in the fourth quarter.


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