Pasadena, CA – UCLA came home to a brand new storyline. Sitting at 2-2 in the Pac-12 South, they can be in the drivers seat if they are able to win out with USC and Utah still in the schedule. Their first step however was to face an Arizona State team that suddenly was going on a downhill spiral after starting the season 3-0.
Everything was going right for UCLA. Joshua Kelly had a monster first half, carrying the ball for the bulk of the first 24 minutes and managed four touchdowns in the process. UCLA controlled the clock and the tempo with back-to-back 16 play touchdown drives that kept Arizona State’s offense erratic to find anything that could work on such short time. Dorian Thompson Robinson executed flawlessly in the second half moving the ball with his arm and his feet. When he looked up running with the football with a 42-10 lead, all eyes were on what was a brand new UCLA football team. Suddenly, spinning to the floor and landing awkwardly on his left leg, the same leg he hurt against the Wildcats a little over a month ago, Bruin fans wondered why something so good can be taken away in an instant. While the Bruins dominated for the first home win in a 45-35 win that wasn’t close, all the attention is back to Thompson-Robinson just as when UCLA’s season turned for the better.
“I am not entirely pleased with the final result, but I am thrilled to see our team get better and better,” UCLA head coach Chip Kelly said. “Give a lot of credit to how our offense had played and how we have taken momentum throughout the game and put it out all on the field. Your guess is as good as mine with our quarterback’s injury. But I am proud of our team and executing our game plan.”
Thompson-Robinson ran for 12 yards on a quarterback keeper to the far side until he was spun, falling hard on his left leg. He did lose the football in the process, but all the concern was on their quarterback as he was helped off the field.
Either way, the Bruins nearly had a complete game without the setback in the final minutes. The Bruins managed 42 points in the first three quarters and had the game within control until their quarterback went down.
Joshua Kelly’s stat line was rather impressive, running for 164 yards and four total touchdowns on 34 carries. Stats however only tell half of the story as Chip Kelly utilized him for nearly the entire first half, running on nearly every down taking away precious time and all the momentum the Sun Devils were trying to find. Back to back 16 play scoring drives, all fueled by Joshua Kelly’s ball carrying, practically summed up everything the Bruins needed to dominate.
“Joshua is a workhorse,” Chip said. “When Josh plays well we have a shot. And Josh certainly played lights out tonight.”
Once Arizona State had the ball, it gave the Bruins a chance at predicting what the Sun Devils would do. Adjusting to a pass-heavy offense the rest of the way, UCLA put Jayden Daniels under a lot of pressure and forced him out of the pocket nearly the entire contest. His stat line bumped up in the final minutes throwing 20-for-29 with three touchdowns, all of which came in the fourth quarter.
UCLA hosts Colorado with now a different attitude. Consecutive wins was the first on Chip Kelly’s checklist on one of the better performances the Bruins have had since he has taken over. Of course, the rest of their schedule has UCLA in the drivers seat if they can win out. A team that started 0-4 and a bad loss to Oregon State suddenly has turned for the better. Does Chip think that?
“Destiny is a predetermined set of events,” Chip said. “If they are a predetermined set of events, then, well, you can’t control it.”