With Nebraska off this week, we asked our staff members to do something they don’t get to do very often––be a fan. More specifically, just pick a team and try to live-and-die a game for a week. You can read all of those dispatches here.
Frustration. I learned how frustrating it is being a UCLA fan right now. Coming into the game at 1-5, Year 2 of the Chip Kelly era has gone much differently than anyone could have seen coming. There was so much excitement for the Kelly Era inclduing dreams of being the new kings of L.A.
A matchup against a wounded Stanford team would be what the doctor ordered. The Bruins were in desperate need of some momentum. We “fans” of UCLA are getting restless.
Doing research on my new team I discovered that UCLA has offered just 104 scholarships for the 2020 recruiting cycle. Our new coach thinks he has found some sort of new strategy by increasing the value of a UCLA scholarship offer. Kelly has been notoriously picky in his evaluations so far as the coach of the Bruins. So, I was expecting to see a set of developing playmakers on the field Thursday.
I did not see that.
I saw a team that needs a big talent infusion. The staff doesn’t seem to be pounding the trail all that hard to get that talent. That’s been a frustration of my newfound fellow Bruin lovers since Chip took over. What started out as a competitive quirk of Kelly’s is now a rallying cry of fans. There is a perceived lack of effort in recruiting.
Things are not all bad though. The Bruins did get the win over Stanford. “We” were led by true sophomore quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson. The Vegas native put together one of his best games since arriving in Westwood. During the week, Kelly said that the offense was close to clicking. This game can be a springboard for the overall offense. It can also serve as a shot of confidence for the young signal-caller with tons of potential. Ending an 11-game losing streak against Stanford is important for team confidence. Even if Kelly downplayed it after the game.
It does feel pretty good as a “fan” to get bragging rights over one of the other in-state schools, though.
In a lot of ways this UCLA team reminds me of Nebraska. Of course, there is the Chip Kelly-Scott Frost link. But these are two programs in need of complete culture overhauls and talent infusion. The Huskers have more playmakers than the Bruins. Some of the same frustrations I hear from Nebraska fans are ones I had while watching my Bruins. Fundamental football has eluded UCLA. The high-powered offense has not shown up quite yet and consistency is a problem.
We did have quite the heady play during the game.
UCLA lineman dragging the Stanford runner backwards after the tackle on 4th and 1, good heads-up football pic.twitter.com/ueSPKmdRK1
— Stu Motown #BlackLivesMatter (@cjzero) October 18, 2019
There are signs of progress within my new team. We actually control our own destiny in the Pac-12 South due to how wild the conference has been. That road will be tough. Over the stretch run of the season there are just a couple of games that you’d circle as winnable for UCLA. Getting that win against Stanford was a nice feather in the cap of a program looking to gain momentum and keep faith with its fanbase.
But hey, at least we aren’t USC, which is about to go through a coaching search. Right?
Greg is the Recruiting Analyst for Hail Varsity and has covered Husker athletics since 2013. He has always had a passion for sports while growing up in the Chicago area. As he got older and had to hang up his cleats and sneakers, he realized his passion for sports went beyond just watching and attending games. He has covered many events from the Rose Bowl to championship boxing matches. If he’s not talking sports, he’s hovering over his grill. He is married to an amazing woman, Kim, and they have a dog that barks when Greg yells at the TV during games.