Moline has full role again
Chane Moline knows what he’s going to be doing each day, a comforting change.
Moline has spent his UCLA football career doing a little bit of this and a little bit of that. Now he has a defined role: fullback.
Moline will play his fourth consecutive game at fullback when the Bruins face Stanford today at the Rose Bowl.
“It’s nice,” said Moline, a junior. “I get to start games now. I was never really a starter, except when guys were injured. I was always wondering when I would get in and when I would play. Now I know. When they call for the base offense, I’m in.”
Moline took over at fullback after Trevor Theriot suffered a season-ending knee injury during practice before the Fresno State game. Moline adds another element to the offense. He has seven receptions for 73 yards from the position, including a 20-yard touchdown reception against Fresno State on Sept. 27.
“Trevor was doing some of the same things, but Chane has brought tailback skills to fullback,” running backs coach Wayne Moses said. “We seem to have gravitated more toward the fullback spot.”
Moline had gravitated away from it. He came to UCLA as a fullback but was moved to tailback for short-yardage situations. He rushed for only 101 yards but scored five touchdowns as a freshman in 2006.
Last season, injuries to Chris Markey and Kahlil Bell left Moline starting at tailback against Arizona. He gained 62 yards in 15 carries and finished with 196 yards for the season.
“I came here to play fullback and slowly moved away from it,” Moline said. “When the new coaching staff came in, I became a hybrid, where I needed to know both positions.”
An injury to Bell this season had Moline back in the lineup as tailback after the season opener against Tennessee. He and the rest of the Bruins struggled against Brigham Young, but Moline gained 72 yards the next week.
Then came Theriot’s injury.
“I like being in a three-point stance, it gives you better knowledge of the whole offensive scheme,” Moline said. “I like getting in there and hitting people now and then.”
Moline needs to do a little more of that, Moses said.
“I think he probably needs to have a little better technique in finishing his blocks,” Moses said. “He’s getting on guys good, he’s just not finishing. He needs to try to be more physical. But he’s eager and willing.”
Ahead of pace
UCLA Coach Rick Neuheisel was hardly surprised by the rapid recovery of wide receiver Terrence Austin, who is expected to play today.
Austin had to be carted off the field and taken to a hospital after being clobbered against Oregon last Saturday. He suffered a strained neck and concussion, yet was back practicing Wednesday.
“I think what happens is there is a lot of precaution, which is wise,” Neuheisel said. “Obviously, because of the danger of head and neck injuries, they definitely want to go through all the different things they check out. The situation comes off as much more serious, then you find out he’s OK.”
Austin is the Bruins’ leading receiver with 31 catches for 313 yards. He is also the team’s top kickoff and punt return man.
Stanford has a 1-2 turnover ratio this season, having lost six fumbles and had 10 passes intercepted. UCLA has forced only six turnovers in six games.
“We have to do a better job of that,” Neuheisel said. “We need to give our offense shorter fields to work on.”
UCLA has a four-game winning streak against Stanford and has beaten the Cardinal 11 of the last 15 games. That includes a five-game winning streak at the Rose Bowl.
The Cardinal’s last win at the Rose Bowl was a 21-20 victory over UCLA in 1996.