Sunday Morning QB: UCLA Looks Improved, But Talent Deficit Remains
The Bruins look a lot better on the field, but the team may have hit its talent ceiling.
We’ve reached the mid-point of the third year of the Chip Kelly era at UCLA and, so far, it’s been another tough year for the Bruins. The team is just 1-2 after three games so far this season and there still doesn’t appear to be any end in sight to the mediocrity under Kelly.
There are plenty of easy answers as to why the Bruins lost Saturday’s game to the Oregon Ducks. It would be easy to say that this weekend’s loss to Oregon was a matter of tough luck at the end of the game. It’s also easy to say that Saturday’s loss was the result of Bruin turnovers. It would be equally easy to blame Saturday’s loss on the fact that UCLA started a redshirt freshman quarterback who was starting his first game.
While it’s easy to say all that and more, the solutions are a whole lot harder. You can’t just wish away turnovers and there isn’t really anything Chip Kelly or the coaching staff can do to minimize them — at least, not in the short term anyway.
To his credit, Kelly took the blame for the pick six that ended the first half in his postgame press conference. At least, Kelly didn’t pull something from Steve Alford’s playbook and say that he can’t play the game for his players.
But, that doesn’t still doesn’t provide a solution to the Bruins’ turnover problems.
In UCLA’s two losses this season, the Bruins have turned the ball over eight times.
And, while there really isn’t much that Chip Kelly and his coaching staff can do to minimize turnovers, the performance of the team still remains Kelly’s responsibility.
Kelly remains responsible for it because he’s the head coach and, as head coach, he is responsible for recruiting.
We’re now in the third year of the Chip Kelly era and, given how many guys have left the program over Kelly’s first three years, almost all of the players on the team were recruited by him and his staff. So, these are his guys. Anyone continuing to argue that Bruin fans need to give Kelly time is just oblivious to the state of the program under Kelly.
To be sure, the defense has played better this season. Twice so far, the defense has held their opponent to less than 100 yards rushing.
The offense has played better, too. Both losses were by less than a touchdown.
In fact, you might even be able to make an argument that this year’s team is a success under Coach Wooden’s definition of success:
Success is peace of mind which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you did your best to become the best you are capable of becoming.
The problem, of course, is that donors and fans want the team to win games on the field, not just be a success as defined by Coach Wooden’s philosophical definition.
After all, moral victories are just justified losses and, unfortunately, Coach Wooden’s definition doesn’t really account for a team which loses more games than it wins being a success. Of course, it’s possible and it can happen.
The bottom line, however, remains that Chip Kelly was hired to win football games and his poor recruiting job is continuing to hamper the Bruins’ ability to win football games.
No amount of nutrition or conditioning is going to overcome a talent deficit caused by poor recruiting and that’s why UCLA can look much better on the field and still be losing football games.