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Myles Jack's usage on UCLA offense has limits, Mora says

Kirby Lee / USA Today Sports
UCLA linebacker Myles Jack has electrified the Bruins as a running back in their last two games.

UCLA linebacker Myles Jack has rushed for five touchdowns on 19 career carries. What can he do for an encore?

Not much more, it would seem, and even Bruins head coach Jim Mora acknowledges that the freshman's effectiveness as a runner might be coming to an end. Not because Jack can't run the ball -- 179 yards in two games indicates that is certainly not the case -- but because he does not know the intricacies of pass protection.

Nov 15, 2013; Pasadena, CA, USA; UCLA Bruins quarterback Brett Hundley (17) throws a pass against the Washington Huskies at Rose Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
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"He's not going to learn now," Mora said after the 41-31 win over Washington. "It's too late in the process. If he's just out there (and) every time we hand him the ball, Arizona State is going to be zeroed in on him."

The expected return of starter Jordon James from an ankle injury should increase the overall effective of the UCLA run game, which has averaged 3.52 yards per carry from ballcarriers not named Jack in its last two games.

"He'll still get his touches," offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone said of Jack.

The Sun Devils know that, too.

"As much impact as he has had in the last two weeks, I think he will have his 15 or so plays (on offense)," head coach Todd Graham said Tuesday on the Pac-12 teleconference.

The challenge will be stopping Jack, who at 6-foot-1 and 225 pounds has proved to be a force in short-yardage situations and at the goal line.

"He is a very powerful back, and if he did that full-time, no doubt in my mind he would be the starter," Graham said.

And while the playbook is extremely limited when Jack is in the backfield, it makes it all the more demoralizing to the opposition when he moves the chains or gets into the end zone and all the more uplifting for UCLA.

Said Mazzone: "A good physical running back ignites a whole team."

Just ask wide receiver Devin Lucien.

"Myles Jack is the best player in the world," Lucien said. "That's all that is. Myles Jack is the man. He's amazing, right? Oh my God!"

That emotion could be what Jack provides in the critical Pac-12 South showdown against ASU, even if, or when, the rushing yards and touchdowns come back down to earth.

Follow Dan Greenspan on Twitter @DanGreenspan.

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