Derrick Coleman makes a power play

August, 24, 2011
8/24/11
6:44
PM PT
Derrick Coleman isn't interested flashy open field moves and he doesn't quite have the speed to break away for long touchdown runs.

That makes him perfect for the UCLA offense.

Coleman is UCLA's power back--a 6-foot, 240-pound rock responsible for doing the dirty work in tough-yardage situations, and he showed Saturday during UCLA's fall scrimmage that he pretty good at it.

Coleman, a senior, gained 51 yards in six carries to lead all rushers, but impressed more with his ability to power through defenders than anything else. So while Johnathan Franklin takes the role of featured back with game-breaking ability, Coleman is content as the underrated bruiser with bone-breaking ability.

"My whole thing is that every time I get the ball, gain three or four yards," Coleman said. "Having Johnathan is great, but my job is different than his. I'm here to give us a different look in the running game."

Coleman was second to Franklin on rushing last season with 487 yards and five touchdowns. He averaged 5.9 yards per carry, often times getting an extra two or three by lowering his head and bowling over an opponent. That he has developed into such a power runner is a surprise to those who saw him early in his career before he had learned how to use his size and strength and labeled him soft.

"I always take stuff like that to heart," Coleman said. "Over the years, I've had my ups and downs, but everybody who is with me, is with me and everybody who isn’t, isn’t and I’m out here to prove them wrong. The only way I can do that is run hard."

UCLA safety Dietrich Riley found that out the hard way during Saturday's scrimmage. On one drive, Coleman carried five consecutive times, gaining five, seven, nine, 22 and one yards. Twice during that series, Coleman lowered the boom on Riley--no slouch himself in the hard-hitting department--and knocked him backwards for extra yardage.

"It’s kind of tough hitting a 250-pound guy four times in a row," Riley said. "He’s the guy who definitely gets the short yardage for us."

Peter Yoon

ESPNLosAngeles.com

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