Implementing the pass with the option (cont.)
Kelly wanted to bring in “long and fast” players and so far he has two with freshmen WR Kyle Phillips and Chase Cota have enrolled early. Both have good speed, but what might be more vital is how good their pass catching abilities are as well as thei field vision. So far so good (and they also have a few more coming in the fall), but the Bruins also have a few receivers that have a bit more experience and knowledge with running a meticulous offense.
One thing that remains consistent with the receivers from last season is WR coach Jimmie Dougherty. He helped evolve UCLA’s offense under former OC Jedd Fisch. Several receivers became very reliable (moreso than they did in 2016) which aided the supercharged offense led by Josh Rosen.
What the receivers have to focus on are matchups and quick decision making. They need to be aware of what is going on at the line of scrimmage because if the first (running) option is spent, the play could shift towards the receivers.
In 2016, UCLA caught for 3547 yards. In 2017 under Dougherty, it imlorved by almost 1,000 yards as the Bruins caught for 4,478 yards. With a healthy Rosen, arguably one of the best quarterbacks in the country, the receivers needed to be on the same page as the QB and it progressed very nicely, as you can see from the stats. They were better disciplined and reliable.
Though the Bruins lose several key receivers from last season, such as Darren Andrews, Jordan Lasley and Austin Roberts, they retain the service s of Theo Howard, Christian Pabico and Caleb WIlson, all of which proved themselves to have good hands, and slightly more important, keeping the consistency intact.
The next step is getting these hands ready for Kelly’s offense. The receivers are going to need to watch for mismatches in the open field, develop their route running, focus on catching and occasional blocking, as Kelly’s focus is on creating space for quick, short yardage plays that get up the field quickly.
Now this doesn’t mean there will be no long passes or runs. On the contrary, deception and creating space is essential for getting more yards and if a quick slant avoids enough defensive pressure, then UCLA can gain several extra yards, having small plays turn into big ones.
What the receivers have to focus on are matchups and quick decision making. They need to be aware of what is going on at the line of scrimmage because if the first (running) option is spent, the play could shift towards the receivers. Let us look at how that works when running on all cylinders.