Thompson-Robinson, now fully recovered from his 2018 injury, enters the 2019 season the undisputed starting quarterback, and captain of what will likely be another dynamic Chip Kelly offense. Spring camp reports described Thompson-Robinson as sharp and decisive, showing increased weight, arm strength, mobility, and command of Kelly’s offense. The UCLA Spring Game verified those reports, and showcased Thompson-Robinson’s ability to make any pass Kelly could design, while displaying his increased command of the zone-read offense that forms the core of Kelly’s attack.
Fall camp reports indicated continued improvement for the young quarterback, causing “voice of the Bruins” Wayne Cook to note in an interview on the What’s Bruin Show that Thompson-Robinson has “everything you need…he is so talented with his arm… he is the obvious leader.” In that same interview, Cook likely spoke for all Bruins fans when he noted, “At the end of the day [for UCLA to have a good season], Dorian has to play well.”
Cook may have understated things. Thompson-Robinson, like Speight, Marcus Mariota, Darren Thomas, Dennis Dixon, and Jeremiah Masoli before him, is the engine that drives Chip Kelly’s offense. Whether it is making the correct reads on defensive ends in Chip’s zone-read and run-pass option games, or going through progressions and finding open receivers in the passing game, the entire offense runs through Thompson-Robinson. While he may not carry the majority of the yardage workload, with much of that responsibility going to star running back Joshua Kelley, it will be up to Thompson-Robinson to utilize his arm to keep defenses from crowding the box and stuffing Kelley, and his legs to keep defenses on their heels.
Now the season dawns, with kickoff a mere six days away, and Dorian Thompson-Robinson is ready. He now has two fall camps, a spring camp, a full summer, and nearly 6 games as a Pac 12 starting quarterback under his belt. He has a deep understanding of Chip Kelly’s offense, and plenty of weapons around him, including Kelley, star wide receiver Theo Howard, rising talents Chase Cota, Kyle Phillips, Martell Irby, Michael Ezieke, Devin Asiasi, and Jordan Wilson, and potent newcomers Jaylen Erwin, Kain Medrano, and Keegan Jones. Finally, he has four of his five offensive lineman back for year two, a level of line continuity rarely seen at UCLA. The schedule is not easy, and Thompson-Robinson is still just a true sophomore, but he has the talent, the tools, and one of the best offensive minds in the sport behind him. Now is the time for Thompson-Robinson to emerge on the national stage and remind everyone why UCLA Football is often referred to as a “sleeping giant.”