Fresno State Football

Bulldogs heading to Rose Bowl, where they’ll tackle Bruins from their backyard

UCLA freshman Kazmeir Allen a focus for Fresno State defense

Fresno State defensive coordinator Bert Watts breaks down the Bulldogs' prep for a game at UCLA and against the speedy freshman Kazmeir Allen, a Tulare product they expect will see the football quite a bit.
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Fresno State defensive coordinator Bert Watts breaks down the Bulldogs' prep for a game at UCLA and against the speedy freshman Kazmeir Allen, a Tulare product they expect will see the football quite a bit.

A couple of players from Fresno State’s backyard represent potential trouble Saturday at UCLA.

In two games UCLA has rushed for 273 yards, averaging just 3.4 per play. Of that total, 74 came on one play. Nearly half of their rushing plays, 40 of 81, have gone for just 2 yards or less including 20 tackles for loss and 11 sacks.

Rushing the football on first down, they have averaged an awful 2.3 yards on 38 plays, which obviously sets up a lot of second- and third-and-long situations.

So, where exactly is the trouble in that?

It’s in that 74-yard lightning bolt of a run by Kazmeir Allen, the freshman from Tulare.

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Allen has only 16 touches from scrimmage and has not been the Bruins’ primary kickoff return or punt return man. But sooner or later it might dawn on coach Chip Kelly that he should find ways to get Allen in space, get him the football, let him go and see what happens.

His speed and quickness could be invigorating to a struggling offense. Allen certainly has the credentials – he won the 100 meters last year at the CIF state track championships.

If his breakout happens this week against Fresno State, that definitely could be trouble for the Bulldogs, who have been solid against the run in a victory over Idaho and a loss at Minnesota, allowing just 3.0 yards per play.

“When he touches it, he’s pretty exciting, a pretty electric guy with his speed and he has power, as well,” Fresno State coach Jeff Tedford said. “I’m sure they’re going to continue to increase getting the ball in his hands because he is a big-play guy.”

Allen had six touches against Cincinnati (five rushing plays, one reception) and 10 at Oklahoma (all rushing plays).

The Bulldogs are expecting Allen, who as a senior last year at Tulare Union rushed for 3,336 yards and set a national high school record with 72 touchdowns, to get at least a few more opportunities to make some plays for the Bruins on Saturday at the Rose Bowl.

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UCLA running back Bolu Olorunfunmi (4), a Clovis North grad, is leading the Bruins with 24 rushing attempts. He has gained only 69 yards, 2.9 per play, working behind an inexperienced offensive line. Robert Gauthier LOS ANGELES TIMES

Don’t forget Bolu

There’s another central San Joaquin Valley product in the Bruins’ backfield, senior Bolu Olorunfunmi from Clovis North.

His role grew each of his first three seasons to last year’s team-leading 565 yards on 117 carries, a 4.8-yard average.

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But he’s a power runner stymied behind a young and struggling offensive line that may not have personnel best suited to the Bruins’ new offense under Kelly.

Olorunfunmi has a team-high 24 rushing plays, but he has averaged just 2.8 yards per carry. He has three touchdowns on the ground.

Robert Kuwada: @rkuwada
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