BACKFIELD ROTATION AS EASY AS 1-2-3 UCLA'S WHITE, MARKEY LIGHTENING LOAD FOR DREW.
After watching Maurice Drew run for his third consecutive 100-yard game earlier this season, UCLA coach Karl Dorrell knew he had a problem.
Drew was among the nation's leading rushers, but at 5-foot-8, he also was spending too much time between games icing his battered body.
Dorrell needed balance in his ground game, for Drew's sake, and the sake of building a program.
Last week's 21-0 victory over Stanford was the Bruins' first Pacific-10 Conference shutout since 1987. It also was the coming-out party for Dorrell's new three-headed running attack of Drew, a sophomore, senior Manuel White and freshman Chris Markey.
Drew carried 12 times for 105 yards, White had 12 carries for 87 yards, and Markey ran 10 times for 41 yards.
The rotation was particularly effective in the fourth quarter, when the Bruins ran for a season-high 106 yards, including 61 by Drew. On its final drive, UCLA rushed 10 consecutive times for 72 yards and took 6:20 off the clock to clinch the victory.
``When we're running at the highest level of efficiency and you have three capable players,'' Dorrell said, ``not one of them should get 20 carries.''
UCLA (5-3, 3-2) rushed for 246 yards against Stanford and hopes to do even better Saturday against Washington State, which is allowing an average of 143.6 rushing yards per game. UCLA is second in the conference on the ground, averaging 217.8 per game.
The Bruins tried to spread it around last season with Drew, White and Tyler Ebell, but they had little success. This season is Dorrell's second in Westwood. His offensive philosophy is taking hold, and his offense line is improving.
Drew rushed for a school-record 322 yards Sept. 18 at Washington. But by the end of his 100-yard streak against Illinois, the Huskies and San Diego State, he was beginning to wear down. In his next three games, Drew ran for 118 yards combined.
What the Bruins really needed was three 100-yard efforts out of the backfield.
``You definitely can't be selfish in a backfield like this,'' White said. ``You have to be a team player. You can't worry too much about the stats and different things like that. You just have to look out for the benefit of the team.''
Drew combines power with great vision and breakaway speed. Of his eight rushing touchdowns this season, six were at least 37 yards. He is second in the Pac-10 in rushing at 111.5 yards per game and needs 108 yards for the 17th 1,000-yard season in UCLA history.
At 6-2, 239 pounds, White punishes opposing linebackers and defensive backs. He also has enough speed to break a long run, scoring on a 60-yarder in the season opener against Oklahoma State.
White, who has a history of injury problems, opened the season with three consecutive games of 20 or more carries and gained 326 yards.
After averaging 18.4 carries the first five games, White has had a total of 28 carries the past three games. In his past two outings, White has 20 carries for 168 yards and two touchdowns.
``You have to know you're not going to get as many carries, but when you're in there, make it happen,'' said White, who is sixth in the conference in rushing with 620 yards. ``I think it makes us all better. The linebackers are there looking to see who's in. If they don't look, they could be caught by surprise, thinking I'm in when Maurice is actually in. It's a different ballgame.''
Markey, who is 5-11, 195 pounds, set a New Orleans-area career prep record with 3,832 yards rushing and 60 touchdowns.
``He is a slasher-type running back,'' Dorrell said. ``He's kind of a one-cut, downhill-type guy, but he can make you miss when he breaks through the line of scrimmage. He's always moving forward.''
Drew carried 80 times the first four games. In the new rotation, Drew had 52 carries the past four weeks and his weekly rushing attempts have ranged from 11 to 15.
``It's better,'' Drew said. ``Your body doesn't hurt as much. At the beginning, my body used to ache, but now everybody's getting in, and it's tougher on the defense. We'll come in fresh when the defense is worn down, so you gain more yards anyway.''
Rotating tailbacks is not a new concept for UCLA running backs coach Eric Bieniemy. As an assistant at Colorado in 2002, he used Chris Brown, Robert Purify and Brian Calhoun. The Buffalos averaged 241 rushing yards per game.
``I think we're very blessed (at UCLA) because we have three different, unique backs,'' Bieniemy said. ``I want productive guys, and very, very tough. Not just mentally tough, but physically tough.''
The development of the tailback rotation was slowed by Markey's inexperience. He was dazzling in training camp, but his inability to block concerned Bieniemy. Through the first four games, Markey carried the ball just three times.
Markey's blocking improved, and when Drew began to struggle, he started the Oct. 9 game against Arizona. Markey and White shared second-half carries as Drew sat. Two weeks later, Markey had a five-carry, 80-yard performance at Arizona State, including a third-quarter run of 61 yards.
``With the rotation, you won't be worn out, and that allows us to perform better,'' Markey said. ``It's a learning process. It's not the amount of carries you get or the amount of touchdowns you have. ... I just want to win.''
Brian Dohn, (818) 713-3607
2 photos, 2 boxes
(1 -- color) Maurice Drew
(2) Manuel White doesn't count how many carries he gets as long as UCLA moves the ball on offense.
Edna T. Simpson/Daily News
(1) UCLA vs. WASHINGTON STATE
(2) THREE TIMES THE FUN
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|Publication:||Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)|
|Date:||Nov 4, 2004|
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