The UCLA football 2019 Spring Game did not give away a lot of info about the next phase of the Chip Kelly era, but it did display a few standout players.
If there was anything to be said about the UCLA football 2019 Spring Game, it was that it was more entertaining and flowed better than the 2018 Spring Game.
With Chip Kelly having more than a year to instill his style of football, both the offense and the defense had many more exciting plays than they did a year ago. Although, this was an utterly defensive-dominated game.
Unlike last season, this game pitted the offense (Blue Team) against the defense (White Team), rather than having two squads go at each other. Though the Blue Team technically won by a score of 3-0 (Kicker JJ Molson had the game’s only points with a red zone chip shot), the defense dominated this game. Rather than say the offense beat the defense, it can be more accurately stated that the D held the O to only three points, disallowing any touchdowns by the offense.
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Dorian Thompson-Robinson led the first-team offense for the majority of the game. His first drive left much to be desired as he went three and out, but he improved in his next few possessions. Though he tried to go deep on a few attempts, he was a lot more successful in the short passing game, often connecting with Chase Cota and Theo Howard. DTR also had a few tough completions that showed he is slowly imrpoving on his accuarcy.
DTR’s day, unfortunately, ended with an interception by Je’Vari Anderson who played the overthrown ball — intended for Devin Asiasi — accurately for an endzone pick.
Austin Burton had an impressive Spring Game for the second year in a row. Though he was also unable to get into the endzone, he had several incredible passes, including a 50+ bomb that put Jaylen Erwin down at the 6-yard line. Erwin had to be the receiving MVP for this game as the transfer showed his mettle with several terrific catches in traffic which kept several drives alive. Burton also confirmed that he would be a viable running QB as he had several keepers that went for first downs.
Chase Griffin was able to get into the game for a few drives but was not able to make the most of his time on the field as he had a lot of missed throws. He was able to show that he can also run away from trouble as he did a great job of spying the pass rush and avoiding a loss of yards.
As for the running game, Martell Irby was the bright spot as he had several runs that went right up the middle and got him a lot of positive yardage. Irby looks a lot more confident and should be a bruiser running up the middle next season.
Joshua Kelley, unless I missed a play or two, did not have any snaps in this game. Kazmeir Allen and Keegan Jones had a few nice runs, but also had a few stops behind the line.
The defense, like last year, was the star of the show. Though the Bruins were without a few key members of the defense (Keisean Lucier-South, Josh Woods), the players that did don the white jerseys gave it their all. Even when the offense would break through the line or gain a few substantial yards through the air, the defense limited the yards after contact as they swarmed to the ball on every play.
The name that we heard throughout the game was redshirt freshman defensive back, Patrick Jolly. He seemed to be picked on quite a bit throughout the game, but he did not let that deter him as he had several well-timed pass breakups, including a few in the endzone. Jolly, who was injured for most of last season, did a great job of getting his hands in the path of the pass and kill a few potential big plays.
Tyree Thompson was another who got in the thick of things and was able to slow the offensive roll. Thompson had a crucial tackle for a loss in the first half when he broke through the line and dropped the running back for a loss of four at the two-yard line.
The defensive line did a great job by the committee as they were able to get into the backfield on more than one occasion and disrupt the offensive flow. If anything, the pass rush looked very promising despite losing several reliable edge rushers.
For the most part, the game was entertaining. Though the offense could not cross the goal line, they were able to move the ball downfield with tempo. The defense let a few plays go for first downs, but when it came down to it, they were able to force turnovers and get red zone stops. Very promising for the upcoming season.