Quarterbacks and Running Backs
Talk about a seesaw season for the UCLA quarterbacks. First Speight was selected as the starter and gets hurt a quarter and a half into the season. Then Dorian Thompson-Robinson is inserted in as the starting QB for the rest of that game and the next six. DTR helped lead the Bruins to their first and second wins of the season but had to sit after the start of that second win because he got hurt.
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Once again, enter Speight. He had a tough first game back as a starter against Utah and was beatdown thoroughly but that did not stop him. Speight then helped the Bruins make massive improvements in their last four games, which included a win against USC. Though his eligibility has expired, his leadership and resilience were needed, especially for DTR who can learn from the grad transfer.
That is what makes me excited about DTR’s potential growth in Year 2 and 3 of the Chip Kelly era. He not only knows what to expect from Kelly and his offense but had an experienced mentor to help guide him into the next phase.
As for the running backs, the Bruins are more than set. With Joshua Kelley leading the run game next season, UCLA is almost guaranteed to have a fantastic run game in 2019. In 2018, Kelley ran for 1,297 yards, averaging 113.0 per game which was highlighted by his 289-yard performance against USC. Those numbers should go up next season.
Add in the help Martell Irby and Kazmeir Allen will bring (I couldn’t pick just one backup as both have skills Chip Kelly can use in multiple situations) and the Bruins’ run game could be one of the most feared in the west.
With UCLA’s offense returning most of their starters and backups next season, and the running game building off of their 108.6 S&P+ rating (26th best in the nation), there is a lot to be excited about. Again, do not let the 3-9 record fool you, this UCLA football team is improving and will turn heads next season.