SAN FRANCISCO – Standing at a lectern here, UCLA coach Jim Mora pointed at someone nearby and smiled.
Anyone who watches UCLA play Nebraska on Saturday in the Foster Farms Bowl will "see this guy running all over the field," Mora said, looking at Nebraska quarterback Tommy Armstrong Jr.
Despite a quiet season on the ground, Armstrong has been a focal point for UCLA as it prepares for the Cornhuskers. Linebacker Deon Hollins said the message has been emphasized in meetings all week: "We have to contain him," Hollins said.
For UCLA, part of the difficulty is that it doesn't quite know what type of quarterback it will face in the enigmatic junior.
He is an explosive runner but rushes only occasionally in coach Mike Riley's pro-style offense. He is experienced but mistake-prone. He is one of the most productive quarterbacks in school history, but also one of its more frustrating.
In Nebraska's best win this season, 39-38 over Michigan State in November, Armstrong scored four touchdowns, two on the ground, and threw for 320 yards. In a 28-20 loss to Iowa later that month, he threw four interceptions.
The results can be confusing. He is now just 168 yards shy of Heisman Trophy winner Eric Crouch's second-place ranking in total offense in Nebraska history. Yet he has also thrown seven interceptions in the past seven quarters.
"It's been a roller-coaster ride this season for me," Armstrong said.
Last season, Armstrong rushed an average of 11 times per game, but this year he hasn't attempted more than 12 in any game, and his season high is 63 yards on the ground.
The Bruins expect to see more Armstrong rushes Saturday.
"They've had time to change," defensive coordinator Tom Bradley said. "There's a lot of rest after this game. They're not worried so much about the next week."