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Sunday Morning QB: Chip-wrecked Bruins Need to Be Rescued
Chip Kelly has failed to deliver and it's time for him to go.
After yesterday’s game, I texted a friend who was clearly frustrated by the loss to Oregon. He was offering some thoughts and, at one point, he wrote that he was reconciling the loss over a few hours but would be ok today.
I quickly wrote back suggesting that, yesterday, he should certainly be disappointed, but, today, that disappointment should turn to anger.
Because the game was winnable and, in fact, the Bruins should have won yesterday’s game.
Woulda, coulda, shoulda.
For nearly four years now, and maybe even a lot more, that’s been the operative phrase for UCLA football.
It’s probably the reason why my friend said he’d be ok with it today.
Bruin fans have been conditioned into thinking that this is a normal situation when it comes to football.
A few weeks ago, there was a post from a guy on Facebook who was filled with glee that we had beaten Arizona, despite the fact that to most people, the team still did not play very well at all.
That was another example of the conditioning which has occurred. “Did we win? Then, all is good.”
It’s time for UCLA fans to stop that losing attitude. We shouldn’t accept in a win what we don’t accept in a loss.
When Chip Kelly was hired, he pontificated that football is about three ships: relationships, friendships and championships. Nearly four years later, those ships all still look like they’ve never even left the port, but even if you can argue that they have, that third ship has apparently been lost at sea. It’s been Chip-wrecked and, like the seven castaways from Gilligan’s Island, it seems destined to never be rescued.
In this reincarnation, though, the skipper is, of course, Chip Kelly because he’s the head coach. It also helps that he bears some resemblance to Alan Hale who played the skipper on the 60s sitcom.
There is only one person capable of playing the role of Gilligan. Anyone who’s seen a few reruns knows that Gilligan always finds a way to bungle the gang’s latest rescue hope. That means that Jerry Azzinaro gets to wear the bucket hat and red shirt.
Azzinaro’s defense always seems to find a new way to squander the Bruins’ hopes of winning.
And, much like a TV sitcom, Azzinaro’s defense seems to use the same formula for blowing that chance game after game. They consistently make the other team’s quarterback look like a Heisman contender.
Coming into yesterday’s game, Anthony Brown had not thrown for more than 250 yards all season. So, what did Azzinaro’s defense do? They allowed him to throw for a new season-high of 296 yards!
But what should be even more infuriating was the way they went about it.
The Bruins were up 14-0 at the end of the first quarter before the defense allowed Oregon to score 34 of the next 37 points.
How they heck do you expect to win when you let that happen?
Now, I have to give the Ducks some credit here. They made adjustments as the game went on. UCLA’s adjustments either were non-existent or not effective.
The Ducks got better as the game went on while the Bruins seemed to get worse until the fourth quarter and, by then, it was too late.
UCLA came out of the game and ran the ball for 59 yards in the first quarter. They added another 34 yards on the ground in the second quarter. As a result, UCLA had rushed the ball for 93 yards in the first half.
Then, the rushing attack suddenly became comatose.
The Bruins actually lost three yards running the ball in the third quarter. Tim DeRuyter’s defense was able to figure out what Chip Kelly was trying to do and they stopped it cold.
But that wasn’t the only problem for UCLA offensively.
Dorian Thompson-Robinson had a relatively decent first half. He was 6 for 8 with a pick in the first quarter and he went 7 for 10 in the second.
But, the big issue was how things went in the third quarter.
UCLA tried to force the run. The Bruins ran the ball 12 times in the third quarter and the net result was that loss of three yards.
Did Kelly adjust and start trying to move the ball through the air?
UCLA threw the ball just four times in the third quarter. How many of those four pass attempts were completed? Just one and it went for ten yards.
So, UCLA’s entire offensive output for the third quarter was a net of just seven yards. But, here’s the kicker: UCLA was flagged for false starts on consecutive plays in the the quarter which means that the offense actually lost three yards over the entire quarter.
After Oregon scored to go up 27-17, the Bruins began a drive from their own 25. They gained 11 yards on the ground. That’s when DTR picked up his only completion of the quarter. That gave UCLA a 1st and 10 from their own 47. After Zach Charbonnet ran for a one-yard gain, that’s when the Bruins were called for the consecutive false starts. One was on Sean Rhyan and the other on Greg Dulcich.
Instead of facing a 2nd and 9 from the 48, they were now looking at 2nd and 19 from their own 38. So, what did Chip do? He called a run. While Charbonnet managed to gain five yards, there’s no way Kelly should be calling a run or an RPO, if that’s what it was, on 2nd and 19.
Meanwhile, Jerry Azzinaro’s defense saw Anthony Brown go to the air after being held to just 34 yard rushing in the first half. How did that turn out? About as well as the offense was going.
Brown threw the ball ten times in the third quarter and he completed every single one. Three of those ten went for 15 yards or more and one went for 29 yards.
UCLA finally adjusted offensively in the fourth quarter. The Bruins threw the ball 24 times for 121 yards. That was half of the team’s passing yards for the game. If Chip Kelly had anticipated that Oregon’s stingy run defense would adjust to what the Bruins were doing in the ground game, he would have gone to the air in the third more than four times and he certainly would have called a pass play on 2nd and 19.
Instead, Kelly was left standing there like the Skipper after his Gilligan had managed to bungle another rescue attempt of the Chip-wrecked Bruins.
The Chip Kelly era has jumped the shark and it’s beyond time to cancel this very unfunny sitcom.
The only question left is whether Kelly’s $9 million buyout, which drops to $6 million in January because UCLA would still be on the hook for next year’s salary, is too much for the Athletic Department to afford. I have a bad feeling that it probably is.
But Martin Jarmond should probably be calling donors to raise the money needed to rescue UCLA football from another year of Chip Kelly. He also should be reaching out to Mick Cronin’s former Cincinnati counterpart Luke Fickell before Mike Bonn does across town.
Before I wrap this up, I really want to give props to the Rose Bowl staff and the UCLA Athletic Department. The way that they set up different areas throughout the parking lots for fans to show their proof of vaccinations and/or their negative COVID tests was pretty much a stroke of genius.
Anyone who got there early enough could easily walk to one of these locations and get a wristband which was needed to get into the stadium.
Now, that said, there probably should have been more staff added leading up to game time as I know that the location nearest to the golf course clubhouse was packed with people in line about 30 minutes prior to the game.
But anyone smart enough to take a break from tailgating was able to get a wristband hours before making their way inside and avoid the long line in the process. So, nice job by the Rose Bowl and the Athletic Department. It would have been way worse if they had opted to require proof at the stadium gates.