Where does the offense go from here? (cont.)
In Game 6, UCLA traveled up to Cal, a place where they have not exactly been successful, yet they had their best game of the season at that point. The Bruins put together their best rushing game as Kelley and DTR (who Kelly said would not do a whole lot of running in practice that week), helped the Bruins gain 207 yards on the ground. DTR also had a solid passing performance with 142 yards. We saw in that game how the run led to the passing game opening up. Getting downfield seemed easy for the Bruins after that. Correction: easier.
It was also in that game where we started to see multiple looks with tight ends. Kelly used an 11 personnel, but also a 12 and 13 (that is right, one running back and three tight ends). Kelly had been using an unbalanced O-line for a couple weeks (players loaded to the play side) to help overload and get extra blockers to help advance the ball. It helped as Cal had no answer for this ever-evolving offense.
"Go Joe Bruin writer Chris Osgood did the Herculean task of logging every single play the UCLA football team ran this season. Click HERE to check out his Google Document."
It got a bit harder the next week against Arizona. Though the Bruins pulled out the victory, they had to scramble once again to put together a proper game plan. It also did not help that DTR was injured in the game. Speight was back in under center and we saw how Kelly shifted his plan from run-heavy to pass-heavy with the grad transfer in the game. UCLA won 31-30, but it would get much harder and sloppier after that point.
On a Friday night in the Arroyo Seco, UCLA welcomed Utah to the Rose Bowl in Game 7 and the Utes blasted the Bruins 41-10. It was not good, mostly because of mistakes which haunted them in this game… and the rest of the season. In that game and the next two against Oregon and Arizona State, UCLA would essentially shoot themselves in the foot with a plethora of miscues in these three straight losses.
It was not just the offense that had issues. The defense and special teams played a big part in the setback, which is unfortunate as the Bruins were finding nuggets of success here and there. Unfortunately, it did not lead to more wins.
Things changed when it came time to play USC in the annual crosstown rivalry game. Despite a 2-8 record, many believed the Bruins could take down the 5-5 Trojans. They were right. This came down to coaching and execution and UCLA was better than USC in both areas.
It was also the Joshua Kelley break out party.