The Bruins' running game defined them through two contest, but it got stopped short against the Bulldogs on Saturday.
No. 24 UCLA football (2-1) running back Brittain Brown and center Sam Marrazzo talked about what went wrong on the ground and how it can be tuned up against Stanford this weekend. Brown also reflected on his career game in the Bruins' double-overtime loss to the Cardinal last year, and Marrazzo shouted out a teammate who's family has been dealing with health scares.
What happened to run game and how do you get it back?
Yeah, basically we’ve just got to evaluate ourselves, just execute better when our number is called, the mind-set that we wanted to have coming back in for this week is just run hard, run the plays right over and over again until we get it down pat, keep giving 100%, just keep on rolling to another win.
So if Stanford stacks that box, you'll have a good counter ready for it?
Yeah, we know that Chip Kelly is going to have a good game plan for us going in there. I think we will run the ball as much as we can and we’re going to try to execute the Chip Kelly plan and keep that thing going.
Execution of players more of an issue or Fresno State just stopping it?
I think we didn’t have a lot of chances with the ball. Going into that game, we had a game plan and if we had the ball a little bit more, we would have got more into our run game. It just didn’t turn out that way, so that’s why I guess we’re sitting here talking about the run game, but I don’t think we’re going to be changing much, just sticking with the game plan.
Confident similar game plan could with with execution?
Yeah. That’s right. I’m going to say we’re going to keep running the ball. We had a good practice today, a good Tuesday practice, so we’ve been stacking days and I think we’re all going to be playing real hard out there, just showing everybody that it’s just a little misstep and we’re going to be good to come Saturday.
Stanford a physical team?
Yeah, they’re always physical. Coach Shaw’s teams are always a force and coming downhill, big backers—it’s nothing we haven’t seen before, nothing we haven’t played against, so we’re going to be ready to up the physicality as much as they do.
Zach Charbonnet transition?
He’s been doing a great job. He’s doing everything the coaches ask him to, exceeding expectations, running the rock hard, bursting, scoring touchdowns, so he’s doing everything we need him to do, so it’s going to be great to have him through all these games and he’s going to help us win more.
Something about the offense that helps process for newcomers?
I think they do a really good job of teaching us the offense, I think that coach Foster helps us a lot just kind of putting it in his own words and they don’t ask us to do much, it’s really downhill running a lot of the time, just run behind our o-line [inaudible] and we have to get us right, so as long as we run behind those big boys we’re going good.
218 yards vs. Stanford in 2020 but lost the game – any memories from the end?
Yeah, I remember how I felt during that game—it was terrible afterward. I really wanted to win that one for the boys and it was the last game of the season, so I knew we were all playing our hearts out, but it’s a new year, a new team and squad, got a lot of graces [?] that it came back, so we’re ready to start hunting and going back at it. It’s not the fact that it’s because of that game that we want to play harder, it’s that Stanford is the next game up, so I think we’re ready to turn it back up and get a ‘W.’
What do you have to do against Stanford to have success running again?
It’s basically just have to win the physicality match, like I said earlier, Stanford’s a physical team, so I think running the ball downhill is going to be good for us and I think second half of that game, I probably had 20 carries at the end of the second half, so just trusting in the run game and just keep running hard, basically.
Do you get stronger with each carry?
I think so. I think that’s kind of part of my repertoire but yeah, over time, the defense gets tired and they don’t want to keep seeing a bruiser hit them in the mouth all the time, so I think yeah, you could say that.
Not really football related, but one of my close friends on the team, someone you guys know really well, Jon Gaines, a couple years ago, his father was diagnosed with kidney cancer and luckily he beat it, but in the process, he lost both kidneys so now he's on dialysis twice a week. And even when he comes to watch Jon play, he has to get it out here, so I just kind of wanted to get it out. I talked to Jon about it, just kind of get that out there, hopefully get some press around it. It's a great story, Jon's been here every day through the whole thing, battling through it and he's a great guy and I just feel like, just to get that story out there and hopefully help his dad out in the process, so that's it.
Gaines taking over at center?
Yeah, so Jon has always been one of those guys, ever since he's came in, we've been really close and I feel like we've kind of developed together. He's always been one of those guys that's come in every day, no matter what, just grinding everything, giving it all he's got, and he played really well. To step in there, he's played center before, he had to play center for me a little bit last year, but coming in and playing full games at center, I think he did really well and I think it was really good for the team. He was able to give a lot of security to the O-Line and I think he just did his job, it's great seeing.
Your first performance back?
I felt good, I would've felt better if it had ended a different way, but I had a lot of fun being out there with my teammates, just enjoying the game. That clutch drive in the fourth quarter, going down and scoring a touchdown, I haven't really had that feeling of football in a long time, so that felt really good. I kind of exhausted myself on the sideline a little bit after that. But yeah, I feel like there's still obviously things I need to work on, there's still a little rust I need to dust off, but I'm excited going into Stanford, I'm excited about the week of work the whole line and whole team has put in this week.
Run game didn't get going, Fresno stacking the box or execution errors?
In matchup games, they are a really good team, it really just comes down to who can play at their level, right? I think they just maintained their level a little bit, they executed more times than we did and at the end of the day, we just have to come out and play a hard game and we kinda fell victim to just kind of getting out of hand a little bit. We only had 20 minutes of total offense, I think. So yeah, we just need to come in this week, that's been the main emphasis, just playing our game, we need to execute and not worry about anything else.
Rehab process? Learn anything about yourself from new perspective?
Yeah, I'm not gonna talk about the injury itself, but in terms of the rehab, honestly, it was a grind. There were some days where, especially during spring ball, I didn't want to rehab, I just didn't wanna do it. But then my trainer Steve, he's always been great, he's been my trainer ever since I've been here, he's really pushed me and helped me through the process. Jeremy, our head PT guy here, he's done a great job making sure I was taking the steps necessary to come back. And then in terms of taking a different look at football, it was interesting. In spring ball especially, when I was really just like kind of a coach on the field helping the younger guys. It was interesting to see the plays from that perspective over a long period of time, not just while the 2s are in. But I think it gave me a deeper appreciation for the offense as a whole. I think I understand more outside the box stuff. I try to understand with Dorian – Dorian's on a different level – but trying to understand what he does, how he operates. Yeah, so it was really cool and I think it helped me progress even though I was obviously not able to practice
What can people do to help?
Yeah, so as far as I know, his dad is on the organ transplant list right now and I don't specifically know how that works, if people can volunteer to see if they're matches for him. I just know that it's been a real strain on their whole family, having to go to get dialysis and all that stuff. Jon's just really fought through this whole thing, so I just thought it was a good idea to get this story out there and then hopefully that can lead to some opportunities for them.
Make a TikTok trying to get Sam's Club deal yet?
I did. I DM'd them on Twitter, they told me to make a TikTok, which wasn't really gonna bode well for me considering I had 17 followers and they were all guys on the team. But I made a short little video and have not heard a response. They have, I don't know her last name, but the girl on gymnastics from here, they already have a UCLA rep I guess, so I guess I'm out of luck.
Is the video public?
Yeah, it's on my – it's the one post on my TikTok. It has, I think, 17 likes from the 17 followers I have, but I should've really bought in like some of the other guys in terms of social media a couple years ago if I would've had the forethought to think about these NIL deals, but it's rough out there.
"LET'S GO TO SAM CONNON FROM SI"
We could do a dual TikTok deal, you and me.
Being a coach during practice, now returning to playing with that experience?
Yeah, I mean, I think the best way, or at least what I've heard in the past, is you don't really understand something unless you can teach it. So I thought I had a good grasp of scheme, obviously I still have to work on a lot of technical stuff, but just schematically, I think it really helped just to be able to take the young guys – like Thomas came in in the spring, just kind of working with him just to get the playbook down. Like not so much technique-wise, cause that's coach Frye, obviously does a great job of that and I feel like I'm a little bit out of the league trying to coach that. But just the playbook, I think it really helped me to be able to bring the young guys in, kinda show them how this works, what six-man protection is for guys that came out of high school just running gaps protection the whole time. And yeah, I don't want to be a coach at a college level, but it helped me really get an appreciation for the offense.
Why don't you want to be a college coach?
Ok, so I did want to be a coach at the college level my freshman year. Like they even asked that at a team meeting, I raised my hand up high, I was naive. Then it was a Sunday night one time, not even during season and I was coming on campus, I think there was something going on at Kerckhoff or something, and I was coming on campus. And then I went back, I was going back to my dorm, and it was, like, 9:30 and I saw coach Foster leaving the facility at like 9:30 on a Sunday and I thought to myself, I was like 'Yeah, maybe I'll volunteer at my high school or something, coach the O-Line, but I don't think I can do that kind of time commitment.'