UCLA backup QB role tough to fill due to shortened camp – Press Enterprise

UCLA backup QB role tough to fill due to shortened camp – Press Enterprise

There’s no media allowed during UCLA football practices because of coronavirus precautions, so you take Bruins coach Chip Kelly at his word when he explains how confident he is with the backup quarterbacks battling to be first off the bench should something happen to third-year starter and junior Dorian Thompson-Robinson.

“I’m confident because we don’t have any other options,” Kelly joked during a zoom call with reporters. “You got to go with what you go with.”

When the 2019 season ended, the backup battle going into 2020 figured to be Austin Burton, who stepped in when Thompson-Robinson was briefly injured last season, versus redshirt sophomore Colson Yankoff, who sat out last year after transferring from Washington. Then Burton transferred to Purdue and Yankoff asked Kelly last week if he could move to receiver, which he has, in hopes of more playing time.

So now the backup duties come down to a trio of inexperienced players: true freshman Parker McQuarrie, redshirt freshman Chase Griffin and redshirt freshman Chase Artopoeus, who walked on to UCLA.

Do any of them have an edge?

“They all get reps, so they’re all rolling through behind Dorian,” Kelly said. “We do not have a player that’s taken a snap in a game, so it is wide open between Chase Griffin and Chase Artopoeus and Parker. The three of those guys are battling out and like any young quarterback, they’ll have a really good day and then they may follow that up with an average day, so there’s ebbs and flows, and that went on with Dorian too when he was a freshman.”

Kelly said he was sticking with his freshman backup options and would not bring Yankoff back in the mix should Thompson-Robinson experience an injury.

“No, Colson is full-time at wide out right now,” Kelly said. “It wouldn’t be fair to him to compete as a wide receiver if he had one foot in one room and one foot in the other room, so he’s full time at wide receiver right now.”

Many anticipated that Yankoff was the No. 2 behind Thompson-Robinson, but Kelly wouldn’t necessarily describe it that way.

“I wouldn’t say that,” Kelly said when asked if Yankoff was ahead of the three freshmen before moving to receiver. “We weren’t even talking about that then, everybody was just getting reps. I’m going to say (Colson) only had four or five practices. Again, the benefit of no spring didn’t give us the opportunity to get to that point.”

Not having spring ball and a limited fall camp are reasons why it has been so difficult for Kelly to name a No. 2 less than two weeks before UCLA’s Pac-12 opener Nov. 7 at Colorado, which will be on ESPN 2 at 4 p.m.

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