Kneauxing the Enemy 2021
publishing since 2005
by Bryan Follins
Go West Young Men Go West
The Purple and Gold will play in the Rose Bowl Saturday. They will encounter a UCLA football program which has been down. The Bruins have not had a winning year since the 2015 season. Chip Kelly is in his fourth season as the head Bruin coach. Kelly has not recruited well, and the football program has paid the price.
The Bruins have played and won one game this season, a 44-10 thrashing of Hawaii. It is still not clear how good, or how bad UCLA is as a team.
Dorian Thompson-Robinson is the quarterback for the Bruins. He is a senior. Thompson-Robinson has been an enigmatic player during his career at Westwood. As a sophomore, he threw 21 touchdowns, but 12 interceptions in 11 starts, not a good ratio. He ran for 198 yards, with 2701 yards passing. Last season, he played in only five games. Thompson-Robinson threw for over 300 yards twice, with 12 touchdown passes and four interceptions. He ran for 306 yards in five games, over 100 more than what he had in twice as many games in the 2019 season. He also threw for over 500 yards in a game against Washington State in the 2019 season, leading his team to an eye popping 50 points in the second half.
In short, when Thompson-Robinson is bad, he can be his own team’s worst enemy. When he is good, he can be an opponent’s worst nightmare.
Last Saturday, the Bruins ran the ball most of the time against Hawaii. The two primary backs were Zach Charbonnet and Brittain Brown. Charbonnet, a junior transfer from Michigan, rushed for 106 yards and three touchdowns, averaging 17.7 per carry on six rushes. Brown, a senior redshirt transfer from Duke, ran for 78 yards on 13 carries with one score. The two accounted for four of the five offensive touchdowns for the Bruins.
UCLA returned five starters on the offensive line: senior, Sam Marrazzo, who did not play last week, junior Jon Gaines, senior Atonio Mafi, junior Alec Anderson, and junior Sean Rhyan.
The Bruins did not show any passing game last week. Thompson-Robinson threw the ball 12 times, completing four. In 2020 junior Kyle Philips led UCLA with 38 receptions. He started last week. Junior tight end Greg Dulich started last year. He was second on the team in receptions in 2020 with 26, and a second best in the country, 19.9 yards per grab from the tight end spot. He started last week. The Bruin passing game is still a mystery.
On defense last Saturday, the Bruins blitzed many times. Teams can blitz for a variety of reasons: to cover deficiencies on defense, they are good at blizting, they have active defensive backs, or a combination of all reasons mentioned.
Mo Osling, III, a senior defensive back, led UCLA with five unassisted tackles. Senior defensive back Quantrezz Knight had four solo stops against Hawaii.
NOTE: There was one thing, however, which was not a mystery last Saturday. UCLA ran a no-huddle, run-pass-option (rpo) offense. This was Kelly’s trademark at Oregon. The average time for UCLA scoring drives last week was one minute, fifty seconds. Historically, the Tigers have not done well against rpo offenses. The last time LSU saw a full-fledged rpo was in the 2019 championship season against Ole Miss. That night the Rebels rushed for 402 and piled up 612 total yards against a Tiger defense which had more experience than the current one.
UCLA will try and speed the game up and turn it into a shootout. Hopefully the Purple and Gold will be ready.