It was a strange night for UCLA linebackers.
Senior Anthony Barr couldn’t get on the stat sheet against Arizona on Saturday because Wildcats blockers were tackling him, UCLA Coach Jim Mora said.
Freshman Myles Jack was all over the stat sheet because Arizona players couldn’t tackle him.
The Bruins’ 31-26 victory over the Wildcats was something Ripley would have a hard time buying.
Jack was named the Pac-12 Conference’s offensive player of the week after rolling up 120 yards in six carries as a running back. That included a 66-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter that gave the Bruins just enough of a cushion.
Told of his player-of-the-week award, Jack said, “No. Really? Wow. It seems a little bit strange, because I pride myself on defense. I guess I’ll take it.”
The Bruins used Jack in a special offensive package that Arizona could not solve. “It was all about the guys up front blocking for me,” said Jack, who was a running back at Bellevue (Wash.) High.
A couple of weeks ago, Jack clinched a victory over Utah with an interception inside the five-yard line with 16 seconds left. But his exploits in his first college try at running back brought him more attention. A Pac-12 official said Jack is believed to be the first defensive player to be chosen as the conference’s offensive player of the week.
When the Bruins landed back in Los Angeles and Jack turned on his cellphone, he had text messages galore. One was from his mother.
“We got back at 3 a.m. and she texted to call her,” Jack said. “She was still up and all excited. That was the most meaningful one I got.”
Jack prefers linebacker, but he will receive occasional work on offense.
Mora said Jack is a linebacker and will remain a linebacker.
“Everyone thinks this was great and everyone wants to see more,” Mora said. “What they have to realize is coaches for other teams are now prepared for it. They are going to have an answer.”
Arizona had an answer for Barr, the Bruins’ All-American, according to Mora.
Barr did not have a tackle for the first time since moving to defense after the 2011 season.
“He was tackled about six times,” Mora said. “He probably would have had six sacks if they hadn’t tackled him. He might not have had a tackle, but he got tackled.”
Arizona was called for holding only twice during the game, leaving at least four unaccounted for according to Mora.
“It was a shame what they got away with,” he said.
UCLA will not leave the Los Angeles area for the remainder of the regular season, playing Washington and Arizona State at the Rose Bowl and USC at the Coliseum.
“That’s pretty cool,” quarterback Brett Hundley said. “It’s sort of relaxing. It takes some things off our shoulders, knowing that we don’t have to go anywhere.”
If the Bruins win out they would be Pac-12 South champions. But it’s their road work, not their homework, that has them on the precipice. UCLA is undefeated against division teams the last two seasons. That includes a 4-0 road record.
“Everything is set up the way it needs to be,” Hundley said.