UCLA survived its past two games without a running attack, and beat Washington despite allowing 213 rushing yards to one of the Pacific-10 Conference’s worst running teams. But when No. 10 California visits the 20th-ranked Bruins on Saturday, UCLA’s play at the line of scrimmage – offensively and defensively – will have to be much improved to have a chance for its first victory over a top 10 team since 2001. The Bears possess one of the top running games in the country, and arguably the conference’s best secondary, which will put a premium on UCLA running the ball. “(Cal) is a very good football team that is sound across the board, so it’s going to come down to blocking, tackling,” UCLA coach Karl Dorrell said. “It’s going to come down to getting those things corrected and playing with the effort that is needed, and playing smart. They will expose you if you’re not ready to play.” AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREThe top 10 theme park moments of 2019 Cal coach Jeff Tedford’s ability to produce NFL quarterbacks is widely publicized, but the Bears’ staple as of late is the running game. A year ago, former Cal standout J.J. Arrington (College of the Canyons) ran for 2,018 yards last season, and now Cal is proving it doesn’t matter who carries the ball behind a physical offensive line. In three games, the Bears had three players – starter Marshawn Lynch, backup Justin Forsett and third-stringer Marcus O’Keith – each rush for 100 yards. When Lynch was out with a broken finger, Forsett ran for 187 yards against Illinois and 235 against New Mexico State. In fact, a Cal running back rushed for at least 100 yards in the past 17 games, dating back to the 2003 Insight Bowl, and the Bears are 22-4 under Tedford when a back breaks the 100-yard barrier. Cal also ranks seventh in the nation in rushing at 259.4 yards per game. Furthermore, UCLA’s run defense is suspect. The Bruins rank 91st nationally and eighth in the Pac-10 at 179.5 yards per game, and allowed Washington to double its average with 213 yards on the ground. UCLA is without two starting defensive linemen – tackle Kevin Brown (ankle) and end Nikola Dragovic (knee), who are both done for the season – but defensive coordinator Larry Kerr said the biggest issue is missed tackles. The Bruins’ weekly goal is to have less than five missed tackles. They had a whopping 12 against the Huskies. “They had two big runs,” Kerr said. “One was the 20-yard run for a touchdown, and a (UCLA player) got out of his gap and cut off another guy. We’re right there. We had an unblocked guy right there but we don’t finish the play. “Then on the (49-yard) run in the second half, that’s a 2-yard loss but we miss a tackle in the backfield, and then everyone else is locked down and a guy hits a seam and goes. And that happens in eight-man front football.” The Bruins shut down Oklahoma’s Adrian Peterson, who gained 58 yards on 23 carries, but that was against a one-dimensional offense. Cal has more balance with quarterback Joe Ayoob, although he has struggled at times. Ayoob is 31 of 46 for 421 yards and three touchdowns in his last two games, but the focus is on the Bears’ running game. “We’ve got to have the same mentality that we had against Adrian Peterson,” Kerr said. “We have to make (Lynch) go sideways. If they run downhill on us, they’ll kick the crap out of us because that’s what they want to do. They want to line up and just mash us, and they think they can. They’ll be physical, but I guarantee you one thing, we will match it.” Offensively, controlling the line of scrimmage will allow UCLA to keep the ball away from Cal, but the Bruins will need to show a marked improvement. After averaging 222 rushing yards the first two games, the Bruins ran for a combined 148 yards in the past two. “It’s all mental mistakes. There are no physical mistakes,” UCLA strong-side guard Shannon Tevaga said. “It’s hitting the wrong guy. It’s two guys hitting the same guy and leaving another free. It’s going to be fixed. It has to be fixed. We’ve got the, ‘How to block,’ it’s the ‘Who?’ It’s getting into your playbook more, learn the (defensive) front better. It’s more studying, more preparation.” Bruins tailback Maurice Drew, who was limited to 33 yards by Washington, had another reason for UCLA’s lackluster running game. “Me,” said Drew, who has a team-leading 311 yards rushing. “The last two games, I haven’t been making the right reads to get the running game going. It’s going to be tough to get it back against this defense, but we have to try. You have to go out and run the ball against them. Otherwise, you’re going to crush yourself.” The lack of confidence in the running game forced offensive coordinator Tom Cable to abandon it against Washington. UCLA ran 25 times and threw 44 passes against the Huskies. “Cal is by far the best team that we’ll face thus far, in any way, shape or form; most physical, most talented,” Cable said. “But I’ve said this earlier; you cannot win games like this, or big games in this conference, without having some balance and the physical presence along with it.” Brian Dohn, (818) 713-3607 [email protected] 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!