The Bruins have released their latest two-deep depth chart.
UCLA football (5-2, 3-1 Pac-12) announced its 29 starters and 29 backups for its upcoming game against Oregon (5-1, 2-1 Pac-12) as of Monday. Coach Chip Kelly has made it clear that these lineups can shift drastically before their kickoffs on Saturdays, but it is at least an insightful look at where things stand for the Bruins at the moment.
There were a few decisions of note from Kelly and co. this time around, and All Bruins is here to break them all down.
Kyle Philips' absence from Saturday's game against Washington was a surprise, but it looks like he may be on track to return for the Oregon game.
By nature of how Kelly and UCLA Athletics have been disclosing injuries, COVID tests, suspensions and eligibility – as in, they haven't been – there is nothing on the record about what held Philips out and prevented him from making the trip with the team. Philips was back at practice Monday though, and while he spent a bit of time on the sidelines early on, he was running all the routes with his teammates and looked fine physically.
It'd be better if we had all the information and didn't have to speculate about injuries, but that just isn't going to be the case with Kelly. Still, Philips didn't looked restricted or to be favoring a certain leg or arm, and his range of motion looked fine from afar.
Whatever it was that Philips was dealing with last weekend, it looks like he is largely past it. His appearance as WR1 on the depth chart may not mean much due to the volatile nature of Kelly's two-deeps, but it is at least a positive sign that favors his return on Saturday.
Paul Grattan had been a mainstay at left guard for the first six games, very rarely seeing the bench as part of the Bruins' rotation on their interior offensive line.
In regards to that rotation, most of the discussion this season so far has been about right guard, and how that has impacted the center position as well. Now that Duke Clemens and Jon Gaines II have started three straight games at center and left guard, and the offensive line didn't allow a sack against the Huskies, those spots look to be mostly locked down.
What stood out Saturday in Seattle though was the fact that Grattan, who had played almost every offensive snap for the first three quarters, conceded almost every snap to Atonio Mafi in the fourth. Kelly brushed off our question about it Monday morning, only saying that Grattan ended the game with the most snaps at the position and that any changes on a play-to-play basis were simply following their rotation.
Grattan was fully available at practice Monday, so it doesn't seem like it was an injury decision to play Mafi over him for the entirety of the fourth quarter.
It doesn't look like Mafi will be carrying his fourth-quarter performance into a start on Saturday, but it at least seems like he's more of an option than Baraka Beckett in backing up Grattan.
The one actual change to the two-deep this week came in the backfield, and it was a long time coming.
People had been calling for Zach Charbonnet to become the de facto starting running back over Brittain Brown before the season began, and those demands only escalated after Charbonnet rushed for 223 yards and four touchdowns on 17 carries against Hawaii and LSU to start the year. Brown stayed put as the starter on paper though, even if things started to shift a bit on the field.
After getting 8.3 touches per game compared to Brown's 14 through three games, Charbonnet has since averaged 23.8 touches per game to Brown's 12.8. In all of those games, Charbonnet was clearly the go-to back, but Brown was still listed as the official starter and actually turned in a great 146-yard performance against Arizona.
Now, Charbonnet has officially taken the reigns.
It was just a formality after the workload he's shouldered for the past month, but it was still a notable and important decision that honestly seemed like Kelly and running backs coach DeShaun Foster would never budge on.
The way the Bruins like to rotate cornerbacks, it really isn't too big of a deal that Devin Kirkwood isn't officially listed as a starter.
However, the way Washington treated the rest of the corners last week should just show how important Kirkwood is to this secondary.
The Huskies targeted Cam Johnson on the regular, and even though he made one or two good plays, he was clearly circled as a weak link in Washington's film study. Johnson getting beat in man coverage led to quarterback Dylan Morris' lone touchdown of the night, and he was forced to make four tackles on top of that.
This isn't to say Johnson should get benched – he has been an above-average player for most of the season to this point – but with the big, physical receivers coming to town with the Ducks, it wouldn't be a surprise to see Kirkwood get more snaps than him, or at least match up with top receiver Johnny Johnson III.
Kirkwood is an inch taller than Obi Eboh and Mo Osling – who is still working his way back from an injury, so him being listed could signify his return – and his hands and wingspan seem to be the biggest in the secondary. Kirkwood is arguably UCLA's best cover corner as a freshman, and it will be interesting to see how he is utilized against Oregon in what looks to be the most important game of his young career.
The full depth chart can be seen here: