UCLA football opens Chip Kelly era with 26-17 home loss to Cincinnati

UCLA football dropped its season opener at home to the visiting Cincinnati Bearcats on Saturday night. The Bruins’ offense put up 306 yards, but could not put a sustained drive together, spoiling Chip Kelly’s UCLA coaching debut. (Amy Dixon/Photo editor)

With Chip Kelly behind the wheel, UCLA football was expected to speed through the ranks of college football.

One game against a mid-major program pumped the brakes on that plan.

Behind their potential offensive backfield of the future, the Bruins (0-1) were unable to sustain any offense against the Cincinnati Bearcats (1-0), falling 26-17 on Saturday night.

Even though Kelly’s offenses during his tenure in Oregon were known for their prolific output, UCLA only mustered 306 yards on 68 plays. The offense also produced four three-and-outs and two turnovers on downs.

The second of those, on the Bruins’ penultimate drive, came after Kelly’s decision to go for it on 4th and 1 from his own 36-yard line. But true freshman quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson’s pass flew behind redshirt sophomore receiver Dymond Lee and off his outstretched hands.

The Bearcats subsequently mauled their way down the field for running back Michael Warren’s third one-yard touchdown of the game – on a 4th-and-1 play. That score put Cincinnati up two possessions late in the fourth quarter.

Graduate transfer quarterback Wilton Speight’s UCLA debut lasted less than two quarters – he exited the game several minutes before halftime after a hard hit at the end of a one-yard run. He had completed 8-of-12 passes for 45 yards and an interception that led to Cincinnati’s second touchdown of the game.

Thompson-Robinson didn’t fare much better.

In the true freshman’s collegiate debut, he only completed 15-of-25 passes for 117 yards, and only led UCLA to 180 total yards in the second half. Thompson-Robinson also had a crucial fumble that redshirt junior tight end Caleb Wilson recovered in the end zone for a safety that put Cincinnati ahead for good 19-17 with 10 minutes left in the contest.

Drops, a prominent theme in UCLA’s offense in recent years, reared their head again.

Redshirt senior receiver Christian Pabico had a pass fly through his hands and off his helmet when he was a step behind the Cincinnati defense. But the Thompson-Robinson also didn’t help himself by missing several wide open receivers.

UCLA tied the game early in the third quarter thanks to true freshman running back Kazmeir Allen. The California state 100-meter dash champion made one cut and outraced the defense for a 74-yard touchdown on UCLA’s second play of the second half. Allen finished as the Bruins’ leading rusher with 103 yards on five carries.

Read more here: http://dailybruin.com/2018/09/01/ucla-football-opens-chip-kelly-era-with-26-17-home-loss-to-cincinnati/
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