The first year of the Chip Kelly era with the UCLA football team took on many variations but by season’s end, we were able to see what exactly the first year coach will take into his second year.
The UCLA football team you knew in 2017 was a nothing like the UCLA football team in 2018. Not just because Chip Kelly was in charge, but rather, personnel was different and that had a huge effect on how the Bruins would perform under their new coach.
Today, we will look at what the UCLA offense started out with and what they eventually transformed into by season’s end.
On September 1, 2018, Kelly presented his new offense to the world against Cincinnati. It did not go well. Michigan transfer Wilton Speight was this year’s starting quarterback and whatever plan Kelly had for him, needed to be altered immediately.
In the second quarter of that game, Speight was hit and injured, prompting the Dorian Thompson-Robinson era to begin early. Though he showed promise, he also was not able to move the offense as it sputtered out of the starting gate, but it was not all on him. The running game lagged. The O-line was not able to get a push. Balls were being dropped. It was as if Jim Mora never left.
Fans were perplexed. This resembled nothing like what Kelly did at Oregon. It was not fast. It was not innovative, it was something that resulted in a loss. Five actually, to start the season.
UCLA Roster Changes in 2018
- QBs: 3 new, 3 returning
- RBs: 3 new, 5 returning
- TEs: 3 new, 5 returning
- WRs: 6 new, 6 returning
- OLs: 9 new, 6 returning
But this was not Oregon. As the season progressed, we slowly found out that what Kelly was doing at UCLA was nothing like what Kelly did at Oregon. It was more. Still, it took time.
Over the next four games, the Bruins would show flashes of greatness but also struggled mightily. The run never really took off despite a carousel of runners, the passing game was not exactly effective, and QB play was up in the air from week to week with Speight’s injury and DTR learning on the job.
It did not manifest into anything special, but from time to time, we would see interesting little tweaks that Kelly would insert. Not that it would be the basis for the foundation of the coach’s latest style, but it would help him understand what is working with formations, personnel, and execution.