UCLA football running back Colson Yankoff spoke with the media following Monday morning's practice session at the Wasserman Football Center. Yankoff talked about his clutch performance against Arizona State, how the Bruins managed to succeed running the ball without Zach Charbonnet, his own running style, what adjustments he is still making to the position and the structure of UCLA's practices.
How did you like practicing in the rain today?
I kind of loved it. You know, I like the cold weather a little bit, so it was nice to be back in the rain a little.
You had another big game on Saturday – what was it like stepping up in that environment?
Thank you very much. Yeah, I mean, I’m just called upon to do what they ask me, so it was fun to run out there and get some carries and have some fun.
What does it say about this team that you ran for 400 yards without Zach?
Yeah, I just think we’ve got some guys that are versatile and we’re deep at all positions and can do what we need to do to win games.
Still feel that you're learning how to be a running back?
Yeah, I think it’s going to be a work in progress but I feel way more comfortable than I did weeks ago and the coaches have been awesome and are really, really helpful, so we’re learning, for sure.
In what ways are you more comfortable?
I’m just learning to read blocks better, understanding the scheme up front a little better, things like that.
How much have you benefited from the actual game experience?
That’s a good question, I would say the thing that games benefit me on is more the tackling aspect of things and making me get my pads a little lower and learning how to do that because we don’t do as much of that in practice.
How would you describe your running style, because it seems like you're a hard-to-bring-down, rugged running back
Sure, thank you. Um, yeah, I think that’s kind of all I’m priding myself in right now is, I don’t want anyone to take me down, so I’m a little bit of a bigger guy obviously at this position so I’m going to take pride in that and just try to rumble through there.
Ever watch Toby Gerhart?
[Laughs] A little bit, yeah. Some of the guys like to throw that name around.
Do you see some comparisons there?
I don’t know about that. I’d be honored if people did, so.
I see some
Well, thank you. I appreciate that.
What's it like being part of an offense that has so many weapons?
I think it just makes things easy, honestly. There’s not too much pressure on any one guy, we can spread the ball around throwing it, we can run, we can have quarterback run work really well, it just speaks to the versatility of the whole team.
You played running back in high school?
I was a quarterback all in high school, actually.
Yeah. I was a dual-threat quarterback, so I had some of that experience but no, I was a quarterback all through high school.
How long did it take for those running instincts to kick back in?
I don’t know. A little bit. I played quarterback in college at U-Dub and here, so that’s the role I’ve been in longest, so I think the running thing is pretty new and it feels good to be carrying the ball around, for sure.
How would you rate Dorian's two latest hurdles?
Oof. 10 out of 10. Those were pretty sweet, it’s good stuff.
So the potential potential pass, it looked like you had it poked out from behind?
Yeah, all I know is I had it and then I didn’t, so that’s one I wish I could have back, but that’s how it goes sometimes.
Coaches talk to you about wrapping up the ball?
Yeah, I think that’s one of those things that I know how to catch it and I didn’t make the catch when I needed to, so get it done.
When you run as much as you did Saturday, is your special teams workload reduced?
Um, this Saturday it was about the same. I can take it, so no worries there.
No tackling in practice?
Uh, we don’t generally tackle.
So it's like a thud type of thing?
Do you see a benefit?
I think it just helps us stay fresh. Having guys on the ground just can lead to unwanted injuries, not just the guy going down but people tripping over people and unwanted chaos, so we do a great job and coach does a great job of helping us understand how to practice and how to do that right way and still benefit, so.
Is it tougher to get a feel for breaking tackles?
I think for me, just being a taller guy, it was a pad-level thing that I was alluding to, you know, and at quarterback I didn’t do a good job of that back in the day when I was a quarterback running around, so that was the only thing, just getting hit in the chest a couple of times, I was like, all right, I’ve got to cover it up a little bit but other than that, I think we do a good job in practices to get used to that.
Feel like there's a buzz building around you guys on campus now that you're 8-1 and in the top 10?
Sure, we have a little saying around here, TBU—it’s true but it’s useless, right? What goes on in this building is what we do and nobody knows what’s going on but us, right, so we just like to keep our nose down and we’ll look up at the end of the season and see where we land, but we’re kind of on our own mission right now.