As the coronavirus continues to loom around the Pac-12 football conference, UCLA is still on track for Saturday’s crossover game against No. 11 Oregon (2-0).
According to Jon Wilner of Bay Area News Group, the Bruins (1-1) were given permission to travel, avoiding concerns about tracking down the coronavirus.
It is unclear on Friday which players will miss the game as a result of these concerns.
Novice quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson tweeted“I don’t have a Covid-19” Friday night in response to reports that he may miss Saturday’s game. It remained unclear on Friday night whether Thompson-Robinson would be available to play.
If Thompson-Robinson is not available, Chase Griffin can start. Griffin got into the closing minutes of the fourth quarter of UCLA’s victory over Cal on Sunday.
Chip Kelly, who coached the Ducks from 2009-12 and led them to an appearance in the 2010 national championship game, will make his second appearance at Autzen Stadium as UCLA’s coach.
The biggest difference this time around is the lack of fans present. As the number of cases continues to rise across the country, Oregon will not allow fans into the stadium.
“I think it’s a very different time,” Kelly said of returning to Oregon. “It is a special place and has a place in my heart. … One of the things that make Oregon special is the fans and there won’t be any. ”
While UCLA is a clear underdog on the road against a nationally ranked opponent, the team has shown it can get upset with Kelly as the coach. UCLA achieved two wins over ranked teams, No. 24 Arizona State and No. 19 Washington State, scoring more than 42 points in each game in 2019.
When UCLA has the ball: The first two games of the Bruins showed the impact that flipping the ball can have on their attack.
The Bruins had several costly turnovers in the first half of the season opener against Colorado and just one against Cal. Against Oregon, the offense will likely have to be perfect.
“We were behind in the first half (against Colorado) and we didn’t have that many rushes,” said Kelly. “As you get down to business and try to be a more balanced team, you jump into hasty totals.”
Demetric Felton rushed to a team-high 107 rushing yards on 25 carriers, while Brittain Brown added 12 carriers for 71 yards and a touchdown against Cal. The duo had 12 of the 25 carriers in the first game.
“They tried to keep me and Felt off the field at different times in order to throw off the defense,” said Brown. “We throw everything at them, so it’s good to have different skills.”
Kelly’s attempt to establish the run game paid off, but the Bruins will need solid protection beforehand to stop the conference’s second-ranked rush defense, led by defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux and LB Noah Sewell. The defense allows 148.5 rushing yards per game.
When Oregon has the ballThe Bruins defense must follow its performance against Cal last Sunday, when it allowed only 176 yards of total offense, the least allowed by the Bruins since it allowed 122 yards against the state of Arizona in 2008.
“I think we have played each other better in defense,” said defender Osa Odighizuwa.
Odighizuwa had five tackles, including 2.5 for loss and 1.5 sack against Cal. Linebacker Caleb Johnson had four tackles, including 2.5 for a loss, 1.5 sack and an interception in his first home game as Bruin.
Quarterback Tyler Shough and the Ducks’ backfield will pose a tougher challenge to the UCLA defense as the top-ranked offense in the conference. The Ducks averaged 538.5 yards per game, seventh in FBS.
Shough has proven to be a double threat in the first two weeks of the season, becoming just one of four quarterbacks in the country to throw more than 200 yards this season and rush for more than yards in at least two games this season.
Behind the effort of CJ Verdell and Travis Dye, the Ducks’ attack averaged 269 yards per game, finishing in 5th place in FBS.