Bell Bruins Top Offensive Weapon

Kahlil Bell

The California defense allowed only 85 yards rushing per game entering last week's game at Arizona. However, freshman Wildcat RB Keola Antolin shredded Cal's stout rush defense for 149 yards and three touchdowns. This week the foe is a bit less formidable. UCLA is averaging less than 100 yards on the ground per game and starting RB Kahlil Bell is averaging just 37 yards rushing per game…

Arizona's Keola Antolin was the first back to rush for over 100 yards against California this season. UCLA running back Kahlil Bell is the Bruins main threat offensively, but they have struggled as a team rushing the ball. Through seven games, the Bruins have been held to 110 yards or less six times, including four times under their season average of 90.9 yards per game. In fact, take away their 234 yards rushing versus Fresno State, their output would 402 net rushing yards for the season.

While true freshman Derrick Coleman is leading the Bruins with 191 yards rushing, Bell is their starter and the horse. UCLA will try to develop a ground game with Bell and hope to capitalize on some of the things Antolin and the Wildcats were able to do. But unlike Antolin, Bell does not possess the same combination of speed, power, and agility.

"[Kahlil Bell] seems consistent," said Cal linebacker Worrell Williams. "He's not going to blind you with his speed. He's not going to crush you with his power. He's always moving, always moving the pile, always running as hard as he can. Last time we played them, he broke for a long one on us. He's definitely a good back."

Williams said Antolin was the worst type of back to face. He described him as small with back with speed and power, almost completely the opposite of Bell. "[Antolin] could hit the hole and you blink your eyes he was gone," said Williams.

Bell started the opener versus Tennessee, but after gaining 11 yards on five carries, he left in the first quarter with a left ankle injury. He sat out the next two games versus BYU and Arizona but returned for Fresno State. Against the Bulldogs, he amassed a season-high 73 yards on 20 carries and 2 touchdowns. He followed it up with 43 yards on 21 carries and 2 touchdowns against Washington State. The last two games against Oregon and Stanford, he rushed a combined 25 times for 65 yards and one touchdown.

UCLA's offense is still a work in progress. Quarterback Kevin Craft is continuing to improve, but the passing game is not up to offensive coordinator Norm Chow's standards. The only constant has been with a healthy Bell, the Bruins lead with the run.

"They try to get Kahlil Bell the ball," said Cal safety Marcus Ezeff of what he noticed on film about the UCLA offense. "I'm not really worried about that because I also went to high school with the kid."

Ezeff says it will be all business on the field between him and Bell. "We'll have our laugh after the game," he said.

No one expects a laughing matter in this week's game. Cal sits only half game back from the top of Pac-10 standings. Moreover, the Bears cannot afford to struggle at home, where they have 25 of the last 29 games.


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