UCLA's Myles Jack prefers defense, despite breakout game at RB

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UCLA linebacker Myles Jack knows how to tackle UCLA running back Myles Jack, which is one of the main reasons the true freshman prefers defense rather than offense.

"I'd probably hit myself low," Jack told reporters Monday when asked how he would react as a linebacker to Jack the running back. "That's really one of the reasons I don't like playing running back, getting hit in the legs."

That information would have been useful for the Arizona defense last week, as Jack ran for 120 yards and one touchdown in the 31-26 win over the Wildcats, an outstanding two-way performance that earned Pac-12 offensive player of the week honors Monday.

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The Bruins added the small package of plays with Jack as the primary ball carrier late last week, but even the 6-foot-1, 225-pound dynamo didn't expect it to be used in a game.

"It was tossed out there, but I didn't really believe it was going to happen until they actually called the package and everything," Jack said.

Jack ended up carrying the ball six times, while another play from the same formation with Jack in the backfield saw quarterback Brett Hundley complete a pass to inside linebacker Jordan Zumwalt. Jack also had eight tackles, one tackle for loss, one fumble recovery and two pass breakups in his usual role at outside linebacker.

"I pride myself on defense, but apparently I won (player of the week) on offense. I'll take it," Jack said.

Head coach Jim Mora estimated that Jack played a total of roughly 115-118 snaps on offense, defense, and special teams. The prospect of an even heavier workload with more time at running back going forward is fine with Jack.

"I'd suck it up and do whatever the team asks me to," Jack said.

Several programs, including South Carolina, Vanderbilt and Georgia, recruited Jack primarily as a running back coming out of Bellevue, Wash. The hometown Washington Huskies, UCLA's opponent this Friday, gave him the option of playing wherever he wanted.

Ultimately, it was a belief in Mora and desire to play defense that brought Jack to UCLA.

And perhaps that is why Jack had more to say critiquing his defensive play at UA than praising his breakout offensive performance.

Said Jack: "I actually felt like I didn't play that well. I missed a couple tackles and I had an interception I should have caught. It wasn't my best performance, but that's why you have another week to play."

Follow Dan Greenspan on Twitter @DanGreenspan.

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