By Zack Kelberman
BOULDER, Colo. (247 SPORTS) – During his four seasons as the head coach at Oregon, between 2009 and 2012, Chip Kelly averaged 11-and-a-half wins and the Ducks never lost more than three games in a season.
Three games into his tenure at UCLA, Kelly is 0-3.
During the Bruins’ disastrous start, Kelly has feuded with quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson’s dad. And during their loss to Fresno State on Sept. 15, UCLA players were forced to do jumping jack circles as punishment during the game… a bizarre sight.
Like Colorado, UCLA is coming off a bye week. In the spirit of keeping their edge, the Buffaloes have to operate with the assumption the Bruins were able to re-group. Colorado head coach Mike MacIntyre has called UCLA the “best 0-3 team in the country.”
“(UCLA) has played three really good teams and they’ll be the most athletic team we’ve played this year,” MacIntyre said. “(They) had to play with a true freshman quarterback, which is really hard to do. I expect them to be really good and expect them to be able to make plays. It is going to be a hard, hard contest.”
Kelly’s previous four seasons as a coach were spent in the NFL, but his offense at UCLA resembles what he ran when he was in Eugene.
“They use No. 19 (Kazmeir Allen) kind of like they used those quick guys they had all over the place (at Oregon). He is a really good player,” MacIntyre said. “They are running a lot of stretch, reading the three-technique on the stretch, and running some option principles, especially more in the last game. I never went against Chip Kelly but I see a lot of similarities to what Scott Frost and Mark Helfrich ran when they were at Oregon.”
Graduate transfer quarterback Wilton Speight has been making progress from the back injury that sidelined him during the Bruins’ season-opening loss to Cincinnati. There is a chance he will be back in action against Colorado on Friday night, but Kelly has been playing coy with the media when asked about their quarterback situation in recent days. Thompson-Robinson’s 116.6 quarterback rating – on 75 attempts – ranks 100th nationally.
“We’re looking to be ready for whichever quarterback comes out,” MacIntyre said. “No. 7 (Thompson-Robinson) runs around a little bit more in the pocket than No. 3 (Speight) did from the little we saw him play. And we’ve seen (Speight) before. He beat us when he was at Michigan. He is a good player. He has a good strong arm and he can really put the ball down the field well.”
*** In addition to having the players return to the lower practice fields during the bye week, MacIntyre made a couple other tweaks compared to byes: “I practiced later in the week so we went Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. I used to go Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and give them Friday and Saturday off. We went a lot of ones vs. ones, twos vs. twos. We did more of that than we have in the past so hopefully that’ll keep the speed of the game going, which we need because (UCLA) is quick and they play at a quick tempo, on offense especially. Defensively, they have some really good pass rushers and excellent corners.”
*** MacIntyre attended Palmer Ridge’s game on Friday night to watch quarterback commit Ty Evans play. Then on Saturday, he got a chance to relax on the couch and watch some college football.
“When I watch football, I try to put myself in different situations that happen before halftime and throughout the game. I even have my chart there sometimes and look at it. And the (assistant) coaches and I text back and forth sometimes,” MacIntyre said. “It is kind of fun being able to go to the refrigerator and get ice cream or something and not have to worry about the stress of it. There were some excellent games in the Pac-12. Some of them were really fun to watch.”
*** Oregon was two quarterback kneels away from a win over Stanford on Saturday until Ducks running back CJ Verdell lost a fumble with 51 seconds remaining. The Cardinal tied it up and won in overtime, stunning the Autzen Stadium crowd.
“We watch different games during the season and say (to our players), ‘Hey, this is what we’re talking about,'” MacIntyre said. “That young man was running really hard. It is just very unfortunate that he fumbled the ball. … He is a young kid that will learn from that, but that is a hard one to learn from. You talk to your guys about it, try to preach to them (the importance of ball security late in games).”
*** The Buffaloes opened as an 11 point favorite for Friday night’s game. The line has moved to Colorado -10 at most sportsbooks, according to VegasInsider.com.