UCLA’s Zach Charbonnet remains limited at practice ahead of Pac-12 opener

Running back Zach Charbonnet #24 of the UCLA Bruins catches a pass and runs for first down against the South Alabama Jaguars in the first half of a NCAA Football game at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena on Saturday, September 17, 2022. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

Running back Zach Charbonnet #24 of the UCLA Bruins runs for a first down against the South Alabama Jaguars in the first half of a NCAA Football game at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena on Saturday, September 17, 2022. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

Running back Zach Charbonnet #24 of the UCLA Bruins catches a pass for first down against linebacker Ke’Shun Brown #9 of the South Alabama Jaguars in the first half of a NCAA Football game at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena on Saturday, September 17, 2022. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

South Alabama Jaguars defense tackles running back Zach Charbonnet #24 of the UCLA Bruins in the second half of a NCAA Football game at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena on Saturday, September 17, 2022. UCLA Bruins won 32-31. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

Running back Zach Charbonnet #24 of the UCLA Bruins fumbles as South Alabama Jaguars recovers the ball in the first half of a NCAA Football game at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena on Saturday, September 17, 2022. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

Running back Zach Charbonnet #24 of the UCLA Bruins runs for a first down against the South Alabama Jaguars in the first half of a NCAA Football game at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena on Saturday, September 17, 2022. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

Running back Zach Charbonnet #24 of the UCLA Bruins catches a pass and runs for first down against the South Alabama Jaguars in the first half of a NCAA Football game at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena on Saturday, September 17, 2022. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

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LOS ANGELES — Running back Zach Charbonnet was a limited participant during the media viewing period for Tuesday’s football practice at UCLA (3-0) and could be a game-time decision for the Pac-12 Conference opener at Colorado (0-3) this Saturday.

Charbonnet was seen wearing full pads at practice but didn’t participate in special teams and individual position drills.

He did have a GoPro camera strapped on his helmet, as he did in prior practices, which could indicate he could have had some level of participation after the viewing period.

“Zach is a warrior and a tough kid,” said UCLA coach Chip Kelly when asked about Charbonnet’s status ahead of Monday’s practice.

The star running back did play in a limited role throughout Saturday’s 32-31 nonconference victory over South Alabama.

Charbonnet had 13 carries but just one in the fourth quarter — a 3-yard gain and a first down on third-and-2 at Alabama State’s 16-yard line that helped extend the eventual game-winning drive.

Backup running back Keegan Jones had seven of his team-high 14 carries in the fourth quarter.

Charbonnet finished with 129 total yards (78 rushing and 51 receiving), recording his fourth consecutive 100-yard game. He has finished nine UCLA games with 100 or more total yards.

Charbonnet fumbled at the 2-yard line, which was recovered by South Alabama’s Zeke Chapman in the end zone, after some miscommunication with quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson.

“(Charbonnet had) seen how close we were to the end zone,” Thompson-Robinson said on Monday. “I think in his mind he’s thinking he can just ram it in there, I’m still trying to go through my read, my read told me to pull it on that play, so yeah, a little bit of miscommunication on that play.”

Charbonnet played in the season opener against Bowling Green but did not play in Week 2 against Alabama State. Charbonnet was in uniform but was not among the six Bruins with a rush attempt in the game on Sept. 10.

NEXT MAN UP

Jacob Sykes was listed as a new starting defensive lineman on Monday evening when the depth chart was released. The move was expected after Kelly announced that sixth-year senior Martin Andrus Jr. suffered a season-ending injury in the South Alabama game.

Sykes is a redshirt senior who transferred from Harvard during the offseason. In 2021, he had 27 tackles (eight for a loss), seven sacks, a forced fumble and two quarterback hurries.

Defensive lineman Gary Smith III, a Duke transfer, was also injured in Saturday’s game and was going to try to practice this week, according to Kelly.

Linebacker Kain Medrano remains listed as a starting linebacker on the depth chart despite missing the last two games with an undisclosed injury. Medrano was spotted in pads during Tuesday’s warm-up stretches at the beginning of practice but went back into the weight room area at the Wasserman Football Center during special teams and individual position drills.

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KICKER RECOGNIZED

Kicker Nicholas Barr-Mira had a career-best four field goals, including a 24-yard game-winner as time expired against South Alabama. He also kicked a new career-long 49-yard field goal in the first quarter.

The redshirt junior was voted as the Pac-12 Special Teams Player of the Week for his performance. He was also named as one of three Lou Groza Award “Stars of the Week.”

RANKED OPPONENTS

The Washington Huskies joined three other Pac-12 teams in the Associated Press Top 25 poll this week, following their 39-28 victory over then-No. 11 Michigan State on Saturday. The Bruins now have four ranked opponents on the schedule, with the first of those games coming against the Huskies on Friday, Sept. 30 (7:30 p.m., ESPN).

Games against No. 13 Utah (Oct. 8) and No. 15 Oregon (Oct. 22) will follow the game against the Huskies. The Bruins will host No. 7 USC at the Rose Bowl on Nov 19.