A rushed coaching camp with heavy roster turnover may really feel like an opportune time for UCLA’s offense to create what quantities to a pandemic playbook.
It could contain fewer performs practiced repeatedly till they’re mastered to the purpose of turning into as reflexive as leaping chest bumps after touchdowns.
The Bruins are doing the other.
“Coach, I believe, has truly put in additional performs,” junior quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson mentioned Wednesday by way of videoconference.
Coach Chip Kelly apparently believes he has the personnel to get much more advanced along with his offense. There are some veterans in Thompson-Robinson, essentially the most skilled returning quarterback within the Pac-12 Convention, and a receiving corps that features all three starters again from 2019.
However the Bruins are also working in three new starters on the offensive line whereas experiencing huge turnover at tight finish and operating again. And it wasn’t as if UCLA was an offensive juggernaut in 2019, when the Bruins’ 26.7 factors per recreation ranked No. 8 within the Pac-12 and tied for No. 79 nationally.
Relatively than pare issues down, Kelly has opted to diversify his portfolio of performs. Contemplate Thompson-Robinson amongst those that are excited in regards to the prospects.
“Simply being extra dynamic, having the ability to do a bunch of various issues with the ball in a bunch of various methods and never simply sticking to at least one choice — you will have a number of choices on each play now,” Thompson-Robinson mentioned. “I believe you’ll see everyone having much more freedom, extra keys to the citadel, so I’m actually enthusiastic about Nov. 7 coming round” when the Bruins open the season in opposition to Colorado.
With the coach and quarterback heading into their third season collectively, Thompson-Robinson described himself as “a mini coach Kelly on the sphere.” Which means he is aware of not simply what his coach needs however why and what he must do to make it occur. The quarterback mentioned he’s stepping into his reads rather a lot quicker and enjoying at what he known as “an elite tempo.”
May he get even quicker?
“All the time. All the time. All the time,” mentioned Thompson-Robinson, including that he’s additionally working to cut back turnovers after rating among the many nationwide leaders final season with 12 passes intercepted and 7 misplaced fumbles.
However what if the Bruins’ expanded playbook is just too intricate for the freshmen or anybody who has bother mastering the faculty soccer equal of “Conflict and Peace”?
“We’re not ready for anyone,” Thompson-Robinson mentioned. “These freshmen, they know they need to catch up, so all of the older guys know we’re not ready round for anyone so we’re going to go and go full velocity, full tilt.”
One other Pac man
Obi Eboh joined a uncommon breed this summer season when the cornerback grew to become the most recent intra-conference switch to reach at UCLA.
Since 2010, solely middle Kai Maiava (Colorado), huge receiver Josh Smith (Colorado), fullback Andy Magee (Arizona State), tight finish Caleb Wilson (USC) and quarterback Colson Yankoff (Washington) have change into Bruins after beginning their careers at different Pac-12 faculties.
A component-time starter in 2019 at Stanford, Eboh mentioned he wished to spend his last school season at UCLA as a graduate switch due to his familiarity with the convention, an curiosity within the Bruins that goes again to highschool and the college’s proximity to his buddies in Palo Alto. It additionally didn’t harm that Eboh was accepted into UCLA’s prestigious faculty of regulation.
Eboh ready to face his Stanford friends — on his birthday, no much less — as a part of the Bruins’ unique schedule earlier than it was twice revised. Now the groups gained’t play except they occur to attract one another within the convention championship on Dec. 18 or the slate of video games that might be held the following day.
“Actually, they’re glad that I’m shut and I can come see them or they’ll come down right here,” Eboh mentioned of his associates. “They have been all very supportive. They wished me to remain however they didn’t give me any grief about it and it was a fairly seamless transition.”
And so on.
UCLA began its rapid-testing program Wednesday as a part of its efforts to stop an outbreak of COVID-19 amongst its athletic group.
This story initially appeared in Los Angeles Occasions.