UCLA coach Chip Kelly is waiting to name a starting quarterback going forward.
Kelly said Monday that he’s waiting to see who practices best ahead of the Bruins’ game against Fresno State, with Dorian Thompson-Robinson and Wilton Speight in contention.
Chip Kelly said he needs to see who practices this week before naming a starting quarterback against Fresno State. When I asked him if there was any temptation to to just grow with Dorian Thompson-Robinson going forward, he said, "Nope. Our temptation is to beat Fresno."
— Ben Bolch (@latbbolch) September 10, 2018
Speight was named the starter prior to the season, but was knocked out of the season opener with a back injury and hasn’t played since. He’s apparently healthy enough to merit consideration to start, but Thompson-Robinson hasn’t been awful, throwing for 254 yards and a touchdown in a loss at Oklahoma. Kelly wants to assess both before deciding who will face Fresno State in what he hopes will be his first win as Bruins coach.
Oklahoma Sooners quarterback Kyler Murray carved up the UCLA Bruins on Saturday, leaving coach Chip Kelly rather frustrated.
No, Kelly wasn’t frustrated with his defense. He was more annoyed with Oakland Athletics executive Billy Beane, whom he jokingly felt should have done more to convince Murray to start his baseball career a year early.
Chip Kelly: The only person I'm disappointed in is Billy Beane, I wish he would have given (Kyler Murray) more money. Maybe he wouldn't have come back. #Sooners
— George Stoia III (@GeorgeStoia) September 8, 2018
Murray went 19-of-33 against the Bruins, throwing for 306 yards, three touchdowns, and an interception. He has already signed with the A’s, but with the understanding that he’d play a year of football before embarking on his professional baseball career. Kelly can only wish Murray had made the jump immediately given what he saw from him on Saturday.
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.
Chip Kelly’s rise to fame in the coaching world was a rather rapid one, and there were apparently times when he did not know how to handle it. That may have contributed to a contentious relationship he had with the boosters who supported the Oregon football program when Kelly was there.
In his latest installment of a three-part feature on Kelly, Ben Bolch of the Los Angeles Times spoke with author Mark Saltveit, who has followed Kelly closely and written books about him. According to Saltveit, boosters at Oregon despised Kelly and wanted him fired even after the unprecedented success he had with the program.
“The majority of boosters hated Chip; they were trying to get him fired when he was 46-7,” Saltveit said. “And you know the history of the Ducks; they went entire decades where they didn’t have 46 wins, so a guy who finished top five in the nation every year he was there and they’re trying to get him fired?”
Kelly is said to have scaled back his appearances with boosters as he became more successful with the Ducks. Saltveit said he angered some big donors by refusing to make the two-hour drive from Eugene to Portland for public appearances, and some have wondered if he chose UCLA over a program like Florida because there wouldn’t be as much demand from fans and boosters.
Mike Bellotti, who worked with Kelly for three years at Oregon first as the head coach above him and then as athletic director, doesn’t think that was a factor in Kelly’s decision.
“I don’t think you have to do that anywhere less than anywhere else,” Bellotti said. “I don’t think UCLA boosters, Florida boosters, Oregon boosters, Texas A&M boosters — you’ve got to be available to them on the basis of whatever you decide and you set up or your president, athletic director or board of regents tells you, ‘Hey, there’s certain things you need to do and certain things we’ll figure out how to do.'”
For whatever reason, Kelly’s personality rubs some people the wrong way. We’ve seen that with the way some of his former NFL players have blasted him over the years, but there’s no denying his track record of success at the college level. If UCLA can contend for national championships under Kelly, they’ll find a way to handle any boosters he might annoy.
Pressure is always going to be a factor when coaching a college football program. The expectations of the fans, boosters, and athletic department can sometimes be arguably unrealistic, and so many things can go wrong over the course of a season. Some programs simply expect to contend because they’re major programs of historical significance, too.
Here are ten college football coaches who are, for various reasons, in need of a big campaign. They may be coaches who have been successful in the past but have had their stock fall, young coaches with lots of talent and a need to put it all together, or simply coaches at underachieving big-name programs who are tasked with restoring those teams to their former glory. Whatever the case, these guys need to show something this year.
10) Major Applewhite, Houston
Applewhite is working under the good kind of pressure — the kind that comes with high expectations. He has arguably the best defensive player in college football in Ed Oliver on his side, and Houston will be expected to contend for and win the AAC’s West Division. Applewhite is a young coach in his second full year on the job, which only makes his task a bit heftier. Improvement and a potential division title are required this year to keep discontent at a minimum.
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Chip Kelly is not worried about measuring up to the school across town.
Speaking with reporters on Wednesday, the UCLA football coach said that he did not feel overshadowed by rivals USC and joked about there being few clouds in the sky in Los Angeles, per Greg Beacham of the Associated Press.
UCLA’s Chip Kelly does not feel overshadowed by USC: “In the short time I’ve been in Los Angeles, there aren’t many shadows because there aren’t many clouds in the sky.” pic.twitter.com/bMxgdyBAXo
— Greg Beacham (@gregbeacham) July 25, 2018
The three-time Pac-12 champion Kelly, who was just hired by the Bruins in November, has already generated a tremendous amount of excitement with his arrival. But one of his measuring sticks in Westwood will be how he does against USC. The Trojans have defeated UCLA in their last three straight matchups and finished higher in the standings in all three of those years too.
Kelly has enjoyed success against USC in the past though (going 3-1 against them in his four years coaching Oregon), and he definitely sounds like a man who is not concerned about stacking up to his now-crosstown rivals.
Chip Kelly is finally making his return to college football this season, and fans are excited to see him in action. For proof of that, look no further than the way UCLA has been selling tickets since they announced the hiring of Kelly.
UCLA athletic director Dan Guerrero told Bruce Feldman of The Athletic recently that the Bruins are on pace to increase their ticket base by as much as 25 percent since Kelly came aboard.
“There was incredible excitement once we were able to land Chip,” Guerrero said. “Our ability to land him was reflective in the match that we, UCLA, provided in the things that he values most. Throughout the course of time that he’s been here, we’ve seen incredible excitement from our fan base, and that’s been manifested in their willingness to buy tickets and to be involved in ways that they haven’t before.
“We’ve sold between 2,500 to 3,000 new season tickets (a 700 percent increase from the same time last year). We’re trending toward increasing our ticket base by 20 to 25 percent.”
Interest in the UCLA football program had dwindled in recent years under Jim Mora, and a source told Feldman that 30 percent of the team’s ticket base had disappeared. In addition to increasing ticket sales, Feldman notes that UCLA has also secured multiple new seven-figure financial commitments from boosters since hiring Kelly.
Kelly’s time as an NFL head coach was forgettable, but he was 46-7 in his four seasons at Oregon prior to that and earned a reputation as an offensive mastermind. Believe it or not, Kelly may have even played a role in the Philadelphia Eagles winning the Super Bowl this year.
It goes without saying that landing Kelly was huge for UCLA, but the ticket sales and commitments from boosters are one way to quantify the importance.