This was a game that UCLA should not have been in from start to finish.
The Bruins had nine players not make the trip to Eugene. Dorian Thompson Robinson had to sit out. Their running depth was depleted with Keegan Jones and Kazmir Allen gone. With so much offensive depth gone, red shirt freshman Chase Griffin was given the call, who has never thrown a collegiate pass in his career.
You really don’t know much about what to expect though until the game is actually played. At one point UCLA actually had a lead. Griffin didn’t show off his inexperience as he was hitting targets left and right. With a connection to tight end Gred Dulcich for 32 yards, it gave the Bruins a small lead. It gave the Bruins a lot of hope. It gave the Bruins a possibility for everyone to turn their attention to what could brew as one of the most incredible shakeups in the 2020 college football season.
But then the inexperience finally surfaced when Griffin, on the last play of the first half, heaved a ball avoiding a sack hoping for some magic. Instead, he found the arms of Jordan Happle of Oregon and took it for a 58 yard pick six. It put the Bruins back down at the break. However, this game did scare a lot of Oregon fans, and that included Ducks head coach Mario Cristobal.
“That score at the end of the half does not change our conversation about what happened in the entire first half,” Cristobal said. “We are playing off our game right now. We have to regroup. This is a very tough game and we feel like we are letting our guard down.”
After the pick six, UCLA was expected to let the game go and hand this game off to the Ducks like everyone was waiting for. Oregon managed a 10 point lead with their opening drive of the second half. UCLA answered right back with Felton’s legs with most of the 13 play drive, ending it with a Brittain Brown run. After another Ducks score, it was yet another long drive by the Bruins that required much more from Felton and Brown. Only down 3 with a few minutes left, UCLA managed a stop and earned themselves one final chance, but Griffin only managed to get the Bruins to the 44 yard line of Oregon before they eventually sputtered out.
“Chase was outstanding,” Kelly said. “He is a competitor. When you have an opportunity you take advantage of it and Chase did that. When we know pretty much on Thursday we knew that we had a next man up, and Chase filled that role.”
“I also thought Felton was awesome. I wanted to run the ball and it hurts when we had a great run game and end up losing anyway. To have 34 carries and do what he did is incredible knowing our depth was taken away today.”
Sure it was a 38-35 loss. Sure this puts UCLA back under .500 with Chip Kelly. In a short seven game season, every game is extremely important. With the rest of UCLA’s schedule, however, there is still that very high chance that they can finish above .500 with potential winnable games against Arizona and Arizona State coming up before hosting USC. To hang around against Oregon like they did, maybe more people could consider this Bruins team to ruin the Pac-12 south structure. They just hop that losing the Colorado to start the season will end up haunting them come the end of the season.