No News is Good News for UCLA Football
The program has been quietly moving through spring practice, and is having its best offseason as a result.
UCLA football is just about finished up for the spring.
Wait, let me try this again.
Did you know that UCLA football has been practicing this entire time and that only the Spring Showcase remains?
See, that question feels more right, because it gets closer to the heart of what is going on. The UCLA Bruins have been practicing three times a week since late April and, in that entire time, there has not been much in the way of news from the program. A few players have changed positions, with the biggest ones being Michael Ezeike moving from WR to TE and Martell Irby switching sides of the field from offense to defense. He’s now at the Striker position. Ethan Garbers, the QB transfer from Washington, is now officially eligible after Washington finally stopped being gigantic butts about his NLI. That’s about it.
Looking at it another way, this lack of news is honestly a good thing for UCLA football.
The Chip Kelly era has, in many ways, been defined by its offseasons just as much as its regular seasons. The mass exodus of players had combined with poor recruiting results to create a poor atmosphere around spring football in recent years. This problem has been compounded in recent years by a lack of true coverage from the various beat writers thanks to the pandemic, meaning we’ve been left trying to piece together any news that we can to try and build up hope.
Or, at least, it was a bad situation, but then a funny thing happened this year. The Bruins did not see a mass exodus of players this year!
In fact, there was actually an influx of talented transfers into the program, including RB Zach Charbonnet from Michigan, Kam Brown from Texas A&M, and Ale Kaho from Alabama, along with the aforementioned Garbers.
Recruiting….was good? Or, at the very least, ended with positive momentum? The beat writers are still stuck trying to write coverage reports while looking through a telescope from downtown Westwood, but they haven’t had to report on a program trying to right a rapidly sinking ship for the first time in years.
So, we get to spring practice and, for what feels like the first time in years, there isn’t a huge amount of news coming out of the practices. Which is great! For the most part, everyone from last year is back, which means that the focus is on improving and refining more than trying to teach systems as had been the case in years past. Players are showing a greater understanding of what is being asked of them and practices appear to be running smoothly.
It’s all a bit boring and, as a result, I haven’t been this excited about the possibilities for UCLA football since Chip Kelly was first hired.
Now, all of this should be taken with a grain of salt. It is always helpful to remember that this is still spring practice and the best you can realistically hope for in the spring is that nothing catastrophic happens to derail your season before it can even begin. That’s where UCLA finds itself at this moment, knock on wood, and ideally, that is where the team will find themselves at the end of these practices. And, yes, the practice reports are going to look pretty good because everyone involved would really like UCLA to be successful because success is good for business.
As an aside: how much residual positivity do you think the football team is receiving thanks to that Final Four run? And how much pressure do you think that success is putting on Chip Kelly to deliver in year four? Things to ponder at a later time.
So, I personally will continue to barely pay attention to spring practice and, hopefully, the program will reward me by continuing this new brand of hyper-competence. I know this sacrifice will be tough on my part, but this is a sacrifice I am willing to make for the good of the team.