UCLA’s Kennedy Polamalu brings out toughness in backs


Hiring former USC assistant Kennedy Polamalu to coach UCLA’s as running backs has paid dividends in Westwood.

First there is Paul Perkins, who has 1,172 yards and is tied for second in the Pac-12, averaging 117.2 per game. But there are unseen things, like pass protection, that have been as important as the yards.

“There is an art to that and a toughness to that,” Coach Jim Mora said.


Polamalu, Mora said, has the right touch.

“Kennedy is a tough, hard-nosed, no-nonsense, very compassionate coach,” Mora said. “He draws the best out of them. For me, that’s most noticeable in how they pass protect.”

Being able to aid the offensive line in pass protection directly equates to more playing time for a running back. There is one necessary ingredient to be effective, Mora said.

“You have to be innately tough and want to stick your nose in there,” Mora said. “You’re taking on blitzing linebackers who are running at you. At times, it’s defensive ends depending on the protection. You better be tough. Kennedy demands that of them. It’s in there somewhere and he does a nice job teaching the technical part and drawing the toughness out.”