The Bruins have released their latest two-deep depth chart.
UCLA football (5-3, 3-2 Pac-12) announced its 29 starters and 29 backups for its upcoming game against Utah (4-3, 3-1 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.
For the first time all year, there is drama at the most important position on the field.
Dorian Thompson-Robinson getting hurt prevented what could have been a crazy, instantly iconic comeback against Oregon on Saturday. Ethan Garbers came in to replace him on the last drive, and after moving the ball up to the Ducks' 39-yard line, he threw a pick that sealed the Bruins' fate.
Tossing Garbers, who had taken one meaningful snap at the college level, into the game at that moment was always going to be insanely difficult on the redshirt freshman. He's a talented player who is more than likely UCLA's future starter.
This week, Thompson-Robinson is still listed as the starter and Garbers as backup, despite the injury and what we've seen in practice so far this week.
Thompson-Robinson has been wearing a glove and wrap on his right hand when he takes the practice field, and after not throwing a ball in the open portion of practice on Monday, he attempted just a single pass Tuesday. Garbers has been standing in as the starter in his place.
And with last year's backup, Chase Griffin, out as well – following Thompson-Robinson's lead of dressing in pads but not actually throwing passes – UCLA's group of three at least semi-experienced quarterbacks has been trimmed to one.
It's all guesswork with Kelly, but at this point, it doesn't seem like Thompson-Robinson or Griffin will be good to go by Saturday. That could change in an instant, but it feels like listing Thompson-Robinson as the starter and rolling him out there in practice is more of a ploy to force Utah to prepare game plans for multiple quarterbacks.
So Garbers will move up from QB2 to QB1, and walk-on Chase Artopoeus will be the stand-in at back up. It still remains to be seen who would take Garbers' place as the kick holder if he ends up starting Saturday in Salt Lake City.
There seemed to be a bit of a transition here in the fourth quarter against Washington, and it looked like more of the same early in the Oregon game.
Paul Grattan was getting fewer snaps than Atonio Mafi, just had been the case late against the Huskies. The Bruins' offense was rolling on its first couple drives against the Ducks too, scoring touchdowns on their first two drives and attempting field goals on their next two.
But things shifted back toward the norm in the second half, with Grattan taking back over full-time after UCLA's offense stalled and went down big.
Grattan is listed as the starting left guard once again this week, with Mafi penciled in as the backup right guard. It is interesting to see Kelly stick to this formatting on his two-deep, if he even really cares about it at all, since Duke Clemens has played every snap at center the past three games and Jon Gaines II is locked in at right guard, meaning Mafi is not going to get any go there.
If Mafi is getting as much time as he is – even if it isn't starter's snaps like it seemed like it could be – he should be listed behind Grattan as the OR option at left guard. Baraka Beckett has not seen the field since the Hawaii game in August, so it would make more sense if Mafi was listed as Grattan's backup or alternative in his place.
It's just semantics at this point, but Mafi should get some on-paper recognition for what he's been contributing, and depth chart positioning is a big part of that for offensive linemen who don't pick up traditional stats. At the very least, it would make sense for the two-deep to accurately reflect what's going on on the field.
Without any changes week-over-week on paper, and eight games of context to temper overreactions, there aren't too many narratives to discuss outside of injuries and rotations heading into the Utah game. Outside of quarterback and the long-term injuries for center Sam Marrazzo and tight end Mike Martinez, the offense remains almost completely healthy.
Linebacker Caleb Johnson and cornerback Mo Osling III weren't full participants Tuesday, but they look to be fine moving forward. And for as bad as the production has been as a whole on the defensive side of the ball, no individual performances have stood out that warrant benchings.
The full depth chart can be seen here: