With another National Championship behind us, from a UCLA football perspective, one has to wonder, when will Chip Kelly get the Bruins playing for a title?
Congratulations, Clemson. Now move over, it is time to start thinking about next season and the season after that, especially if you are a UCLA football fan.
Let’s get down to brass tacks. The Bruin faithful want a national championship, but will it happen under Chip Kelly? It is not out of the question as Kelly has experience in this department.
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Back when he was the head coach at Oregon, he made it to the BCS National Championship Game in his second year. He won the Pac-12 Championship in three consecutive seasons. He also made it to two Rose Bowls. Kelly has the experience, but does he have the team to help him do it again?
Though the Bruins finished their first season under Kelly with a 3-9 record, there was improvement from the start of the season to the end. In the first four games of 2018, UCLA averaged 17.0 points, 311.3 yards and had a 3rd down conversion percentage of 30.4. In their last four games, that increased to 31.3 points, 485.5 yards, and 40.4%.
If there is that much improvement in three months, imagine how much improvement there will be after another offseason or another regular season, or spanning a few seasons. It is scary if you think about it.
So with that rattling around in the brain, is it plausible to think that UCLA will be in the National Championship Game? And if so, when?
Well if we look at next year, with the way the Pac-12 South is shaping up, it seems that UCLA will be in contention to win the division. That is the level UCLA should be at next season. But, if they somehow manage to win the Pac-12, they will be no match for the big dogs that are in contention for the national title (Clemson, Alabama, Oklahoma, etc.).
That will not be until 2020.
Why do I say that? Not only does UCLA have a soft non-conference schedule, but the roster should finally be where Kelly wants it to. Not only should the Bruins compete for the Pac-12 in two years, but they should be in the conversation for the College Football Playoffs.
Yes, your laughs are warranted, but so is attention to what Kelly is building. UCLA’s offense seems to be ahead of schedule and if the defense can stay healthy and become what defensive coordinator Jerry Azzinaro requires of them than this Bruin team will surprise you sooner than later.