Confident UCLA set to take on No. 11 Oregon
If UCLA could wax California 34-10 on 43 hours of preparation, what will it do against No. 11 Oregon on Saturday in Eugene with five days to get ready?
Considering how well the Bruins played after COVID-19 turned a Pac-12 After Dark date with Utah into a Sunday morning brunch with the Golden Bears, one would have to give Chip Kelly’s team at least a proverbial puncher’s chance in Autzen Stadium.
Kelly relied on his years of experience coaching in the NFL, where his Philadelphia Eagles and San Francisco 49ers played on Sundays, and then again occasionally on Thursday night, to construct a game plan that would work.
“What do we do in terms of the players? What can they handle? So we did pare down our game plan and did more taking out,” Kelly said. “We didn’t add anything. We went back as coaches and figured out, ‘What should we run, what shouldn’t we run?'”
Whatever UCLA picked, it was the right choice. The Bruins (1-1 Pac-12) outgained Cal 440-176, picking up 23 first downs and allowing just 11. Quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson threw for 196 yards and three scores while running for a fourth.
More impressively, the Bruins’ defense rebounded from a horrible performance in a 48-42 loss at Colorado. They created nine tackles for loss, including five sacks, and permitted just four conversions on 14 third downs.
“We were just able to play what we do best, you know what I mean? And what we do best is very good,” defensive back Qwuantrezz Knight said.
UCLA’s defense will have to be very good to cope with an Oregon offense that is trending toward being the type of high-powered force it was when Kelly made his name there. The Ducks (2-0) rallied for a 43-29 win last week at Washington State after trailing 19-7 just before halftime.
Following a sloppy first half in which quarterback Tyler Shough, running back CJ Verdell and running back Travis Dye each committed turnovers, Oregon bounced back behind the trio. Shough finished with 312 yards in the air, Verdell ran for 118 yards and Dye chipped in 147 all-purpose yards while catching two of Shough’s four touchdown passes.
“Tons of credit to the players for just being very determined and resilient, finding a way to push ahead and win the football game,” Ducks coach Mario Cristobal said.
Small sample sizes are going to be a way of life in the Pac-12 this year with a six- or seven-game season for those fortunate to get to that point, but based off two games, Oregon appears to have the type of balance every offense wants. It is averaging 269 yards on the ground and 269.5 yards in the air per game.
In keeping with the tentative nature of 2020, the game originally was scheduled to be a Friday night contest, but was moved back a day when the Bruins played on Sunday morning.
–Field Level Media