If UCLA (1-2) plays Arizona (0-2) at the Rose Bowl on Saturday at 5 p.m.. m. It will likely be one of only three Pac-12 teams (along with Oregon and Oregon State) to have played all four scheduled games. That alone will be a significant achievement after the Bruins had to postpone a game earlier in the season and faced Colorado instead of Utah at short notice after the Utes were unable to play on their roster due to a COVID-19 outbreak.
The Bruins had their own battle with coronavirus last week as two players tested positive and up to 10 were unavailable due to contact tracing, including third year quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson.
The Bruins still had enough fellows to hit the field for a 38:35 loss to Oregon.
The Pac-12 has a rule that players who test positive or come in contact with someone who has tested positive must serve a 14-day quarantine, but the Bruins seem to be on track to oppose to compete in the wildcats.
Arizona beat UCLA 20:17 last year, but it hasn’t beaten the Bruins at the Rose Bowl since 2010. If both teams can pass the final coronavirus tests on Saturday morning, UCLA coach Chip Kelly said it will be a separate win.
USC had to cancel its game against Colorado on Thursday evening because the Trojans did not have enough scholarship holders due to coronavirus problems.
« You know, 2020 is a unique year for everyone in this world, » said Kelly. « We are grateful that we have the opportunity to keep doing something we love. There are many people who cannot be in our situation right now. ”
The Bruins’ two losses totaled nine points, including last week’s three-point loss to the then No.. 11, Oregon, a game that played despite the Bruins’ four turnovers.
Kelly was asked if she would have gotten all of this if the Bruins’ 2-1 start had been daunting.
« Honestly, I think it’s a much bigger factor for you (media) than it (players), » said Kelly. “After the Oregon game, this group wanted to go back on the field and play it again. Your mindset is, let’s keep playing. You were great.
« I think it is in the nature of what we do (whether) we are 1-3 or 1-2 and you (the media) have to write what you do and we understand that. « . But I really believe our players know they are a good football team and if we stay away from SIWs (self inflicted wounds) we’ll have a shot in every game we play, no matter where we are this season are located. ”
The Wildcats, who lost nine straight times since last season, can probably relate to it. At their season opener they gave No.. 19 USC all had to do with a 34:30 loss, and they fell 37-0 to Washington last week before settling for a 44:27 loss.
« You’re watching your first game, you played really well against USC and lost it towards the end, » said Kelly. “And then it was really a two-half story against Washington. I thought they recovered and did a really good job in the second half, but they dug a hole too big to get out of but it was a competitive game with (Grant) Gunnell at the quarterback. ”
The 6-foot-6 Gunnell threw 1 as a freshman last season. 239 yards and nine touchdowns. He has not thrown an interception this season and only one last year.
He averages 272 yards per game with six touchdowns and completes 68 percent of his passes, which is the second in the Pac-12.
For the Bruins, the Redshirt freshman’s quarterback Chase Griffin is likely to get his second start in place of Thompson-Robinson, who could miss a second straight game due to the quarantine.
Whether Griffin or Thompson-Robinson on the field, the Bruins need to take better care of the ball. Thompson-Robinson committed three of the four sales of the Bruins in their 48:42 loss to Colorado. Griffin passed for 195 yards and one touchdown last week, but also made three turnovers (two interceptions, one fumble) in the loss to Oregon.
The Bruins believe their sales are the main reason for their two losses, and Griffin knows he won’t be able to let that happen again when he starts.
« All sales I have on a game are mine, » said Griffin. « It’s not acceptable in the quarterback position, and every game you play you want to minimize sales, not two, not one, you don’t want to make any sales. « . ”
« It comes down to two things, basics and decision-making, » Griffin said. “So both are very tangible things. They are not these distant things, they are simple. They are not easy, but they are easy and correctable and that is what I focus on in practice. ”
« I was impressed with Chase’s overall performance, » said Kelly. “I think he has a really good feeling for football. He’s a smart and intelligent player and has a really good understanding of situational football.
« Whether in a four-minute situation or in a two-minute situation, I think he’s doing a good job. It’s part of the game call that tells us what to do and routes the call to him. I think he did a good job understanding the situational part. ”
The Bruins had at times great success with the « pistol » on the offensive, which benefited their group from back. The Bruins race an average of 228 yards per game, led by Demetrius Felton and Brittain Brown.
« If your back isn’t on one side or the other, it’s in the middle. It’s hard to figure out which way he’s going, ”said Kelly. « There are some advantages to this, it’s a bit downhill.
« We’ve used the pistol a lot over the past few years because Josh Kelley (now with the Los Angeles Chargers) loved standing behind the quarterback. There’s a back comfort factor, and there are also some things for the defenders that don’t let you tip the ball right or left. ”
The Bruins will face Arizona defensive coordinator Paul Rhoads, who was the Bruins’ defensive coach for the last two seasons before joining the Wildcats.
« I don’t think it’s going to benefit us (if we know his coaching style) for running Paul’s system, » said Kelly. “We understand some of the things. I think some things are being done that he did when he was here, but other things that he is doing are new. ”
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