After all the months of speculation whether there would be a football season, UCLA will finally travel to Colorado this weekend to take on the Buffaloes at 4 p.m. Saturday in a nationally televised game on ESPN2.
UCLA coach Chip Kelly spoke with the media during a conference call Wednesday, and said there is a buzz about the team for finally getting to play its first game.
The Pac-12 didn’t decide until late in the summer to play this fall, and it cut its schedule in half. Pac-12 teams will play a seven-game conference-only schedule over the next seven weeks.
“I think these guys are excited when you think of all they have invested in football,” Kelly said. “And obviously, they were told you weren’t going to play, then told you may play and then told you’re gonna play. And you look at the schedule and look at any of those websites to see who is playing who this week, and it’s Week 10 in college football and we’re playing our opener.
“If you’re not excited about it I don’t think you have a heartbeat. You have to be excited about finally going out and playing another opponent and seeing if your hard work in what has been a really long offseason and different offseason pays off.”
WILL DEFENSE IMPROVE?
The Bruins like their ability to score points with third-year quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson returning and a handful of weapons surrounding him.
But the Bruins have been awful on defense, failing to rank in the top 100 nationally in each of the past two seasons. Last season, the Bruins were torched through the air, giving up more than 450 yards per game passing.
That has to improve, right?
Defensive coordinator Jerry Azzinaro returns, but new defensive backs coach Brian Norwood, who was brought in after a successful stint with Navy, has brought with him his much talked about 4-2-5 defense.
So after fall camp, where do they stand?
“Well, the fortunate thing is we’re going to find out on Saturday,” Kelly said, noting that they have to improve their pass rush. “We’ve been going against each other, but we have some veteran guys that have been really good for us on the front in Osa (Odighizuwa) and Odua (Isibor) and guys like that that have a knack for getting to the quarterback, so we have some leadership there.
“And then we’re excited about seeing some of the young guys and what they can do and bring to that pass rush. But we do have to generate more on the pass rush, that’s a given.”
Will it be a situation where the Bruins’ offense will have to score a lot of points to scratch out wins or can their defense make it easier on them?
Kelly sort of brushed aside whether it will be a situation of the offense having to match their opponents score for score.
Either way, it’s about winning, Kelly says.
“I think that it is always the objective for the offense to outscore what the defense is allowing,” Kelly said. “If they get to three, we need to get to four. It’s a team game and we complement each other and there are going to be games in this league, as long as I’ve been around, that are going to be shootouts and games that are going to be low scoring.”