Chip Kelly sinks UCLA in opener with awful decision
Chip Kelly doomed himself in his UCLA debut on Saturday night with an awful decision late in the Bruins’ season-opening game.
Kelly’s Bruins were trailing Cincinnati 19-17 with just under six minutes remaining in the game and faced a 4th-and-1 decision from their 36. The offense had been struggling and hadn’t produced points in their previous five possessions, one of which included a safety. On the other hand, the defense had been stellar and hadn’t allowed any points all half, forcing multiple three-and-outs.
The decision to punt and swing field position to set up an easier drive for the Bruins the next time, where they’d only need a field goal to take the lead, made all the sense in the world. Instead, Kelly decided to go for it. The offense lined up in a shotgun formation and tried to throw for the first down even though true freshman Dorian Thompson-Robinson was showing accuracy issues and the receivers were dropping passes.
Thompson-Robinson was unable to connect with his receiver, and the Bruins turned the ball over on downs.
UCLA might have had a chance to get the ball back and still win the game, but another problem plagued them.
Not only did Cincinnati boldly convert a 4th-and-2 from the UCLA 12 to kill more clock, but they converted another 4th down later in the drive. Just when Cincinnati was going to take a field goal to go up 22-17 with 1:47 left, the Bruins were penalized for having 12 men on the field. The penalty brought Cincinnati from 4th and goal at the 2 to 4th and goal at the 1, and this time they went for it. They scored a touchdown to put them up 26-17, giving them a two-possession lead.
Kelly is known for being a bold coach who takes chances. That’s something he did earlier in the second half by going for it on a 4th down closer to midfield. That chance made sense. But there was very little sense in taking the risk in the second 4th down situation when the offense had been so bad and the defense had been playing so well. Punting, trusting the defense, and getting better field position would have likely given the Bruins a much better chance of winning the game.