The UCLA football team did not have a lot of consistency on the roster going from the Jim Mora to the Chip Kelly era, but that changes as the Bruins return 19 starters for 2019.
Never underestimate the importance of experience. Last season, we saw what it was like for the UCLA football team to have minimal experience going into the season as the Bruins had massive turnover going from Jim Mora to Chip Kelly. It was not good.
With nearly 40 players leaving the program since Kelly took over, it opened up a lot of spots, but it took away a lot of experience. Whether they were starters or players down in the depth chart, it gutted the roster, giving Kelly and his coaching staff very little to work with.
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In his first year, Kelly utilized several true freshmen and players he brought in via transfer along with the few players that actually wanted to stay. On a separate but similar note, the team had a lot of injuries, forcing players with little on-field experience to get some game time.
On top of that, every Bruin that played last season was exposed to an entirely new philosophy. From gameplay to workout regimen to sports science to an entirely new approach to football, everything was new. It is no wonder why the Bruins started the season 0-5 and ended 3-9. To the casual observer, UCLA was a “bad” team. But the lack of experience is why.
But we saw how the team improved by season’s end. With the experience of 12 games under their belt in Kelly’s system, things were starting to fall into place, and that is why they should improve in 2019.
This coming season, UCLA returns the most starters of any Pac-12 team with 19. Though the majority of the roster will consist of younger players, they all have a year of expereicne in Kelly’s system, which gives the team a boost.
That is not only going to help improve the overall product this fall, but it is strengthening the foundation for the seasons after 2019, especially when you consider the determination of the players that want to be here and turn this program into a winner.
UCLA still has a few issues to deal with, but for the most part, with a year of knowledge under the helmet, more players will not only know how to operate in the same, but they will be able to execute a lot better, and that should bring more success.