UCLA Football: Three questions for the Fresno State game

NORMAN, OK - SEPTEMBER 08: Quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson #7 of the UCLA Bruins throws on the run against the Oklahoma Sooners at Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium on September 8, 2018 in Norman, Oklahoma. The Sooners defeated the Bruins 49-21. (Photo by Brett Deering/Getty Images)
NORMAN, OK - SEPTEMBER 08: Quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson #7 of the UCLA Bruins throws on the run against the Oklahoma Sooners at Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium on September 8, 2018 in Norman, Oklahoma. The Sooners defeated the Bruins 49-21. (Photo by Brett Deering/Getty Images) /
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Go Joe Bruin asks three questions regarding UCLA football as they head into their battle with the Fresno State Bulldogs. Will we get the answers we are looking for?

The UCLA football team is not playing a Top 10 team this weekend (thank god), but Fresno State is no slouch either. The Bulldogs dominated in their season opener against Idaho and nearly pulled out the win against Minnesota last week. Will the Bruins prove to be a tougher challenge?

RELATED: UCLA vs. Fresno State – Gameday Info

That is what Bruins fans are hoping for as progress is apparent, but it needs to continue. The offense has questions, the defense has more to prove and special teams is, well, not so special. So what three questions are burning through our thoughts?

1. Who will be the quarterbacking this squad?

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Last week, head coach Chip Kelly would not say who his starting quarterback would be, despite Dorian Thompson-Robinson giving a good performance against Oklahoma. Though there are several things he still needs to work on, for now, he has given the Bruins hope.

Still, it is disconcerting not knowing who the starter is (though I have a feeling the team already knows), but whoever goes out there against the Bulldogs needs to find some cohesion and get some consistency going. Once UCLA’s offense figures out what they have to do to take off, the world will be a much more beautiful place.

2. Can the offense get things going (especially on the ground)?

We want to know who will be running the offense, but we also want to know who will be running for the offense. So far, not one of the four Bruin backs to see the field have separated themselves from the others. Bolu Olorunfunmi, Kazmeir Allen, Joshua Kelley, and Martell Irby have all had a decent amount of reps (Olorunfunmi leads all in carries, but not by much) but the running game has not had a significant jump from last season.

Though the Bruins are averaging more yards than they did in 2017, it is not exactly what UCLA fans have expected from a Chip Kelly run-based offense. Though many things have contributed to the running game sputtering along, these Bruins seem like they are only a few clicks away from having the run game take off. Hopefully, we see some progress against Fresno State.

3. Is the run defense fools gold or the real deal?

The run defense is, well, it is not bad. In 2017, UCLA allowed 297.4 yards per game. Bad Bruins. Through two games so far, UCLA has only allowed 186.5 yards (they only allowed Oklahoma to accumulate 179!). Better Bruins!

Just by looking at this team, you can see that UCLA has become a lot more aggressive. They are blitzing a lot more, they are loading the box, they are crowding the line and they are finding ways to get into the backfield. UCLA was unable to get a sack against Oklahoma (you can credit the Sooners’ amazing O-line for that), but the Bruns were able to collect four against Cincinnati.

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When it comes to tackles for a loss, UCLA averaged 5.9 in 2017. This year they have upped that to 6.5. These are all small improvements, but they will lead to bigger things, especially against Fresno State.