LOS ANGELES >> A defender grabbed at Soso Jamabo’s ankle 1-yard short of the line to gain. The 6-foot-3 UCLA running back lunged forward.
When the Bruins needed six yards to extend their crucial drive with two minutes left against Colorado last Saturday, Jamabo delivered seven. It was one of only three rushes longer than six yards during UCLA’s win.
Heading into the bye week, UCLA’s rushing attack has done just enough to set up its potent passing counterpart, but the Bruins (3-2, 1-1 Pac-12) are working to get more on the ground.
In the fourth quarter, they kept the ball for more than 10 minutes with drives of 13 and 15 plays, but had only nine combined rushing attempts. One was a sack.
“I would like to see us be able to finish the game with runs, more productive runs there, never have to kick a field goal and never have to kick off and never have to go back out on defense,” head coach Jim Mora said Saturday after the Bruins left 26 seconds on the clock when they had to settle for a field goal on their final drive.
A year after ranking second-to-last in the country in rushing offense with 84.2 yards per game, the Bruins are averaging 115 rushing yards this year. UCLA averaged just 2.7 yards a carry against Colorado, its lowest rushing clip this season since the opener against Texas A&M.
The Bruins had to finish the game without left guard Najee Toran, who injured his leg on the second drive of the third quarter. The senior returned on the next drive with his right knee heavily taped, but aggravated the injury on a third-and-1 quarterback sneak and did not return.
Right guard Michael Alves moved to the left side to replace Toran. Right tackle Andre James moved to right guard. Poasi Moala came off the bench to fill the tackle spot and made the critical block on Jamabo’s 7-yard run on third-and-6 that allowed the Bruins to whittle the clock down.
“We definitely need Najee,” Jamabo said. “It’s not good to see any of your starting linemen go…