UCLA football coach Chip Kelly talks to members of the media following his team’s 44-10 route of Hawaii to open the 2021 season.
First impressions of defense?
I thought our entire team played with really good energy today. But our defense really set the tone. We deferred and kicked off and for them to do what they did. The punter ends up with the ball down. A lot of good things happened. And I think we got some kids that won some one-on-one matchups. I thought Bo Calvert moving outside linebacker really made some plays there. Mitchell Agude was flying around in there. We had a decent rotation. It was obviously a really, really hot day so we had to play a lot of guys. But you know, for the first one out of the gates, there's a lot for us to teach off the film, but there's a lot of good things that we will be able to show off the film.
First non-conference win? Going to the visor now?
The company that makes them. I've always been partial to visors that that company makes so it was good I got to wear it. We're just excited as a team. I thought our kids came to play with great energy. You know, they've been chomping at the bit since the season ended last year and played only a seven-game season. I thought they had a great offseason, they worked extremely hard, but you really don't know what you're gonna get. You know, there's an idea what you think you can get in all three phases of the game. But until you actually play another opponent, you're not sure. I think there were some really positive things that we can build on today but there's also a lot of things we gotta clean up. You feel fortunate, I think we came out of it relatively healthy but we’ve got a very formidable opponent coming in next Saturday. So we'll be right back to work pretty quickly.
One-two rushing attack of Charbonnet and Brown?
It's comforting to know, there's not much of a transition between either of those guys. You know at times when we had Josh (Kelley), we really relied on Josh a lot. And then it was awesome, that we could get Felton in at receiver and he started to pick it up. And then obviously Felt was a different type of weapon. You know, the way he is being used in the NFL as a slot and running back. But to really not have to change as much because Britton and Zach are very similar in terms of body types and the types of runs they can do. But I thought both those guys did a good job the passing game today. They are three-down backs and when you play the schedule we play, we need to have multiple running backs. And I was really happy with how both those guys played today.
Got into backfield a lot on defense and special teams, good to have such a disruptive defense?
Yeah, I mean, two separate units obviously, but I think our punt return team did a decent job based upon what they were giving us from a protection standpoint and then, again, I thought our front played really well today and that was good to see. Those guys have worked extremely hard. I kind of thought we were going to be decent up there and it showed today.
Zach never gave up on 47-yard TD?
Yeah, I mean he’s relentless when he has the football and he’s always running with a great forward lean, it makes him very difficult to tackle. He’s 220 pounds but he’s got legit speed and we’ve seen it—we saw it when he was in high school. You know, he’s the same game we saw, so we were just really happy when we were fortunate to get him last spring and then what we saw through spring and preseason camp is kind of what you guys got an opportunity to see today.
Graham like run blitzes, did you know it'd be a big game?
You never know. I mean, there’s two things that happen when you live by the blitz. When you blitz, the band plays—is it our band or their band, so there were some gaps in there and I thought our offensive line really did a good job of deciphering what they were trying to bring against us, so a lot of credit goes to those guys in opening up some holes and then at times, because there’s going to be one guy that the back has to make miss and we were fortunate that both Brittain and Zach did that.
Genmark Heath and Duke Clemens not starting?
Duke’s in the rotation. I mean, we just played six linemen, so you can’t start six guys, so Duke played a fair amount for us. He rotated in at guard with Nio and Paul.
Yeah, Jordan, from what I understand is fine. I thought he played a lot and did a really nice job for us.
Again, we rotated Paul, Nio and Duke, so whoever started the game is inconsequential to us, but Nio has done a great job in the transition from moving from defensive line to offensive line, so anybody that played—every kid earns their playing time and I thought Nio’s done a great job and we’re excited about seeing how he continues to grow.
Worn T-shirt and shorts on sideline before?
Well, it’s because you can and that’s the great thing about coaching in Southern California, so. We’re big into the science part of it, so from the hydration standpoint our doctors recommended that this was the way we go today, so they didn’t do it but we did, so they said we could wear shorts because it was going to be 95, 96 degrees here in the Rose Bowl, so that’s a good thing. It was hot out. I wouldn’t go with the jeans like you did, but you’re in the press box, you’re a working man. You’ve got to talk to the bosses there and see if gets above 95, can we put in a shorts clause.
Too soon to tell Bruin fans to get on bandwagon?
You can write whatever you want; I’m very adamant about, I can never tell you—you’re way smarter than I am, so I’m going tell you what to write.
Does this team feel special?
This team is a special team because of the people that are there. Now, that doesn’t mean that—you know, you can be a special team and get your tail kicked on weekends too, but the players that we have right now are really special. I mean, and it doesn’t get enough credit. We have 16 kids in grad school, there’s 18 graduates on this football team. It’s a mature team, I think they’re really disciplined in terms of what they want to do and we’ve talked about since we got here that it’s about books and ball and those guys are eating it up in the classroom and they’re starting to see the dividends on the football field, so they’re great people and I think they’re great representatives of this university.
What do you need from Dorian this year?
A lot of it depends on what the defense is doing to you so there are a lot of things in the first half where you don’t always have to throw it. A lot of them, we’re getting 10 yards at a clip, then you’re a bad playcaller if you say, hey, we gotta do this. You don’t get points at the end of the game if you got a balanced system. We’re equal opportunity people. I don’t care if we gain 10 yards on the ground or 10 yards in the air, it doesn’t matter. So sometimes you just see what the hot hand is. At times, there’s a hot receiver, at times, the quarterback is hot, at times the running back is hot, but I think when you discover something that works, our concept is we’re going to do it until you stop it and if you take it away, then then we have to have a counter for it, and that’s the chess match that goes on within the game, but we don’t sit there as a staff and say, well ,we just ran three carries for 30 yards, let’s throw it now. Well, run it a fourth time and see if you can get 10 yards again. So that’s kind of our philosophy. We did not think, hey, we gotta do this, we gotta do that. At the end of the day, you don’t get any points for getting balanced. You get points for getting the ball across the goal line. And whether we run it to get it across or throw it to get it across, we really don’t care. There are going to be times where we’re going to have to rely on Dorian throwing the heck out of the football. It depend on your opponent. The Washington State game a couple years ago, was like that. It was a shootout. And we threw it almost every down. And then there’s games like this when you have to be able to run it. So we feel confident that we can do both but every weekend, you get tested to see if you can do both.
I thought Ale did a nice job. We knew what a great special teams player he was and the fact that he got the blocked punt didn’t surprise us, he’s done it a lot in practice for us. I think he did some really great things and I think we were really fortunate, and with the heat, we knew going in as a staff that we were going to play a lot of guys so Coach Pellum rotated a lot of guys at inside linebacker. Jordan was in there, Ale was in there, JonJon was in there. Kain Medrano I thought did a really nice job in there so we got kind of a good rotation going in there so I was just happy — he’s a great kid, got a smile on his face and plays football the way you want it to be played so we’re really happy that Ale’s here.
Sean McDonnell returning to UNH this week?
I’ve talked to Sean a ton. What he went through to have bladder cancer and to beat it is special. He’s uh, (getting choked up) he’s a really special person and he belongs on the sideline. So that’ll be pretty cool when he gets back out there.
Taking advantage of Kaz's speed?
Yeah, Kaz is a weapon and he’s found a home. We still play him a little bit at running back, and we have some packages for him. We didn’t get into any of those today. Obviously he was our kick returner today, but the ball got kicked out of the back of the end zone so we didn’t get a chance to return any. Hopefully he’s going to be able to help us in the return game and obviously he’s a weapon when it comes to the passing game, so I was happy he and Dorian got the chance to hook up on one.
Decision to move Kaz to WR?
He’s done both. Practicing both in the spring time and going back and forth now. He understands what we’re doing at running back, he’s a really smart kid so he can handle multiple positions but he does most of his individual work at receiver because that’s kind of new to him so that part’s been pretty good to see him do those things and again, it’s another weapon we can get on the field.
Ethan Garbers getting in late?
It was good for all those kids. There was a bunch of guys, that was the cool part that got expressed today because of the score, that we got a lot of guys that played their first college football game for the Bruins today so that was good. I think we got 10 to 12 offensive linemen in, we got a huge rotation on our whole defense, I think we were 10 deep at receiver today. Josiah Norwood is a kid who’s been working his tail off and has shown up a ton in practice and got a chance today to make some catches in some clutch situations and made some plays, thought Mike Ezeike who’s transitioned to tight end made some plays and has done a really good job in learning the nuances of the tight end spot, so to see him get in there and get some reps, that was cool to see. And we’re going to need all of them, as the course of the season goes along, that’s the biggest thing that happens to you, is your depth gets tested and right now, that’s good that we have that and we hope that it continues as we go through this schedule that we have.