Former UCLA special teams coach Frank Gansz Jr. taught junior running back Johnathan Franklin one important message.
“Big front (window), small rear mirror,” Franklin said. “You have to look ahead.”
Franklin’s nickname, Jetski, is a direct reference to his ability to leave things in his wake.
That includes the bad things too, such as his three fumbles in the Bruins’ past five games, including a gaffe in the team’s 45-6 win over Colorado last Saturday at the Rose Bowl.
Because so often, the bad is followed by the good, as in Franklin’s season-high 162 yards and a score against the Buffaloes.
“I don’t want it to become something mental for him,” Neuheisel said. “But there’s no question in games like this, turnovers are huge. In both games (against USC the last two years), we gave up turnovers that resulted in touchdowns for them.”
In 2010, a year after USC linebacker Malcolm Smith returned a Kevin Prince interception 62 yards for a touchdown, Smith gobbled up a Franklin fumble and took it back 66 yards for a touchdown.
After the fumble, Franklin got one carry the rest of the game.
Running backs coach Wayne Moses implied that last year’s results would not trickle into the game plan – and the rotation – this year.
“That’s last year,” Moses said. “This is this year. I’m not going to go retro to a whole different year. I’m not going back on it.”
Forget last year, though.
Franklin does a good job of forgetting one play.
“I think Jetski more than anyone does a good job of one snap and clear,” senior wide receiver Taylor Embree said. “It’s easy for a player when you fumble, and it’s been a recurring thing, to get down on yourself. He never gets down himself. He’ll come back the next play and hit a 40-yard run.”