UCLA running back Steven Manfro suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his knee Tuesday on the last play of practice, according to a person close to the program.
Manfro, a junior, was taken off the field on a cart and had an MRI exam, which determined the extent of the injury. He is done for the season.
“That put a damper on practice,” Coach Jim Mora said. “Everyone was pretty shook up. We were having a good day. It kind of changed the mood.”
Manfro was part of a three-man running back rotation, with Jordon James and Paul Perkins, in the Bruins' 28-20 victory over Virginia on Saturday. He had two carries but did not gain a yard.
Besides being one of the team's fastest running backs, he is also a quality receiver and can return kicks.
“It upsets everybody, when a guy who is as critical as Steven gets hurt,” Mora said.
The Bruins' options for a third running back would be redshirt freshman Craig Lee and freshman Nate Starks. Neither are as skilled at pass receiving as Manfro. Linebacker Myles Jack could also pull double duty, but he would be limited to a specific package.
The Bruins' running game was stagnant in the first half against Virginia. UCLA had 23 yards rushing at halftime. Perkins had 57 of his team-high 80 yards rushing in the second half.
“Perk ran really hard,” Mora said. “He finished last year like he started this year, kind of a slashing type runner who can hit the hole get some extra yardage. Hopefully, he will continue to build on that.”
Toe the line
UCLA offensive line coach Adrian Klemm was blunt Tuesday.
“If they're not talking about us, then it's a good thing,” Klemm said about the line. “And they are talking about us too often this week because of sacks, false starts and other things.”
The Bruins' line went through a rough afternoon in Virginia. There were four false starts, five sacks and a paltry 116 yards rushing.
“It was probably one of the [worst] performances I have been a part of as a player or a coach,” Klemm said. “I'm disappointed. But we have to move on from it, and we definitely have to get better.”
The circumstances were difficult. Tackles Simon Goines (knee) and Conor McDermott were unavailable. Center Jake Brendel (knee) sat out his first game since winning the job in 2012.
Brendel progressed last week, but Scott Quessenberry continued to work with the first team Tuesday. Goines is believed to be at least two weeks away from returning. McDermott's status is unknown.
No matter, Klemm said.
“Guys come in and out, and unfortunate things happen sometimes,” Klemm said. “Guys have to be prepared when the opportunity comes and it's my job to prepare them.”
Klemm said he saw more focus Tuesday. But, he said, “We were focused last week. It's about carrying it over when it really matters.”
What does an eight-point victory over Virginia do for you?
It hurts your national standing.
UCLA was dropped from seventh to 11th in the USA Today Coaches' and Associated Press polls. It could be worse. Stanford beat UC Davis, 45-0, and was dropped from 11th to 13th in the AP poll.
Florida State, Alabama, and Oklahoma remained the top four teams.
Nose tackle Kenny Clark finished with eight tackles against Virginia, an impressive number, Mora said.
“He was a dominant force in there,” Mora said. “A lot of times he was fighting off a double team.