As we get close to another Saturday let’s take a look at the matchup with the Bruins. Neither team has gotten off to a great start and both will be looking to get their season on track. To break down the game from the UCLA perspective Dimitri Dorlis, from our friends over at Bruins Nation, was kind enough to take some time to answer our questions.
1.It’s fair to say that the Chip Kelly era has not been what most expected at this point. What has gone wrong the past 2 years?
Dimitri Dorlis: Kind of a combination of a whole host of factors. Kelly is essentially trying to fit a square peg into a round hole, while also refusing to go buy any tools to help him accomplish the task. By that, I mean his coaching staff is implementing a scheme on both sides of the ball that seems ill-equipped to put the players he has in a position to succeed. The offense wants to run power despite having a host of talent that would work better in a spread system, and the defensive scheme.....well, OSU should have its best offensive game of the year, because that’s what everyone does against the UCLA defense. Recruiting has been way below UCLA’s historical standard, and the team does not seem to be improving in any meaningful way. Other than that, things are great!
2. Would you say Chip is on the hot seat or did that bonkers PAC12AfterDark win over Wazzu buy some time?
Dimitri Dorlis: I’d say the win over Wazzu didn’t do much to affect things either way. Fact is, Chip Kelly was going to get at least another year to prove himself regardless of how this year went. The only difference is that if he showed improvement, got the team to a bowl game (6-6 was the general high mark amongst most fans) then he would have easily gotten the full 5 years of his contract. But for the team to look noticeably worse is causing a lot of public grumbling from the fans, and causing national media to notice. So he’s not necessarily on the hot seat, but this poor start has not made things any better in that regard.
3. What’s the feeling among the fanbase heading into this weekend?
Dimitri Dorlis: Apathy? General discontent? I think it’s mostly uncertainty. Especially with Southern Cal on the verge of firing their coach at some point and making a play for Urban Meyer, there’s a feeling that UCLA has very publicly missed an opportunity to regain ground in the city and conference. That trickles down into this weekend, because this is a game UCLA should probably win, but the season has made it so that many UCLA fans basically expect a loss.
4. What offensive players should OSU fans be aware of?
Dimitri Dorlis: Dorian Thompson-Robinson will probably be a game-time decision, as he missed a lot of practice this week after getting knocked out against Arizona, so Austin Burton could get his first career start. The big players to watch will be UCLA’s running back tandem of Joshua Kelley and Demetric Felton. Kelley came alive last year as one of the best running backs in the conference, and he’s finally rounding into form after suffering an injury in fall camp. Felton has been a do-everything type, putting on a clinic against Washington State before seeing his usage go almost-nonexistent against Arizona.
5. What about defensive player?
Dimitri Dorlis: Umm, harder to do here, as the defense has just not been good. I’ll go ahead and highlight the defensive line, including Atonio Mafi, Otito Ogbonnia, and Osa Odighizuwa. The UCLA interior run defense has been the lone bright spot for the unit, and these guys deserve a ton of credit.
Dimitri Dorlis: Despite how poor UCLA has looked, I still think on some level that they’ve had this game circled on their calendar as a “get better” game. Oregon State represents a program at a similar level to UCLA right now, so the Bruins need to show improvement in this game just to placate fan discontent in the program. So I’ll say UCLA wins, but by a score that doesn’t inspire a ton of confidence going forward. Thinking 24-20.
If you want to read more on the game from the enemies perspective go check out Bruins Nation and follow them on twitter @BruinNation.