UCLA Football: Three things to be excited about in 2018

PASADENA, CA - SEPTEMBER 03: Soso Jamabo /

In just under 20 very short days, UCLA football will begin their 2017-18 campaign. Here are the three things that I am the most excited about.

Last season was my first writing about UCLA football. A majority of my articles about the team mentioned the number three. I have become the “three things guy”. Ironically, I am not a big fan of the number three.

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But you are not here to read about me or my favorite numbers. You are here because you cannot wait for the season to get started. Chip Kelly is the face of UCLA football and that is heady stuff. So as a man of the people, here are the three things that I am most excited about heading into the 2018-19 with Kelly at the helm.

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There is something primitive about football. Large, athletic men choosing to run into each other repeatedly for the entertainment of strangers. Stadiums fashioned after the Roman Colosseum, language that mirrors warfare and gladiators, winners and losers. Toughness is valued over innovation and creativity.

Above all, the outcome is king. But occasionally, a coach comes along and blends innovation with positive outcomes. Kelly is such a coach.

Jim Mora was not all bad. He did some good and was a net positive. But one issue that I had was with the way he led the program. Under his direction, UCLA football lacked an identity.

Mora made the switch to a pro-style power offense when he had the wrong offensive line and players for it. He used Myles Jack on offense and defense when he had capable running backs and it affected the defense. Under Kelly, UCLA football will be different. This is not to say that Kelly is infallible but for better or worse, his teams have an identity. This is a longer conversation and one that I will return to in upcoming weeks.

Dorian Thompson-Robinson and QB depth

For the first time in a while, UCLA football has some depth at the QB position. Dorian Thompson-Robinson is the most intriguing member of this group. He is explosive, has a cannon and is a dual threat in every sense of the word. He started for one year in high school and almost racked up 4,000 yards of total offense. But as a freshman, he lacks experience.

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The good news is, he does not have the same pressure on him that the last freshman star quarterback to come to Westwood did. He does not need to be a savior or even “the chosen one”. There are other capable options in Devon Modster and Wilton Speight. Both players have experience starting at this level and can lead the team if needed. I am very excited about Thompson-Robinson’s potential, but I feel comfortable knowing that Modster and Speight are in the fold as well.

Speed, Speed, and More Speed

Kelly is famous for going fast. True to form, he began by bringing speed into the fold. I am excited to see what he does with a player like Kazmeir Allen. Allen is a state champion in the 100m, scored 72 touchdowns during football season (a national record) and put together 4,626 all-purpose yards.

Now, Chip Kelly gets to deploy him on Saturday nights for UCLA Football. Then there is Soso Jamabo, the talented but oft misused running back who Kelly should be able to scheme into space for maximum carnage. Theo Howard will finally be unleashed and should evolve into the threat that UCLA fans have been dreaming that he would be. I can do this all day.

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The point is, no one weaponizes speed like Kelly and he is UCLA football’s coach. We get to watch that. On September 1. Tell me, are you not entertained?