UCLA football coach Chip Kelly talked to the media after the Bruins’ road loss to Utah, including his thoughts on defensive coordinator Jerry Azzinaro’s job status and the debut of quarterback Ethan Garbers.
Going to be long night after giving up four touchdowns on first four drives?
Yeah, I mean, I thought our guys battled in the second half, but I think we put ourselves in a hole in the first half. You know, we had been a really good team against the rush coming into this game but we did not do a very good job against the rush tonight. You know, obviously could not control the run game, you know, they play two- and three-tight-end sets and we did not do what we had to do defend their run game tonight.
How can you justify keeping Jerry Azzinaro at this point?
Yeah, well, I’ll just talk about tonight. We didn’t do a good job in the run game. We played—even this year—very well on the defensive side of the ball and I think our defense has improved; our defense improved last year and when you look at some of the games we did early in the year I thought we played really well. Tonight, we did not play well in the rush category to give up that many yards. Coming into the game, we were 13th in the country in rush defense and didn’t do a good job, so.
Garbs is a cool customer, you know. We knew what we were going to get with him, you know, he played a little bit at the end of the Hawaii game and then played the last five snaps in the Oregon game and had to come out and play in this environment, this is always a tough place to play, Utah has a great home-field advantage and the crowd does an unbelievable job, but for Garbs to come out down a couple of guys, just to rally the troops and continue to play and battle right down to the end, happy with the way Ethan played, made one pick but it was a tipped ball. Besides that, I thought he did a good job with the ball and I think he kept a lot of things alive with his legs—he’s probably a little better athlete than people give him credit for. We knew that he could do some things for us, so for the first game he played, I was happy with what we got out of Ethan tonight.
Ty Jordan, Aaron Lowe patch, being here for retirement and tributes?
Yeah, I think it was a tragedy that I think is a very difficult thing and I talked to Whit about it when it happened, just the whole thing, they were high school teammates together and they grew up together and Aaron wore Ty’s number because of what happened and then for it to happen to him in less than a year, for this football team to go through that, to lose two of your teammates, that’s a real difficult thing to process for anybody. We just felt like as a group, everybody in college football, there’s a brotherhood there and our players have tremendous respect for everybody at Utah and we just wanted to let them know that we were there for them and if they were going to honor him—they asked us if we would wear the patch and we said we would love to wear the patch.
Defense started as pressure defense but not much pressure now, has the scheme shifted?
No, if you watch the film, we pressured tonight, they did a very good job picking up the pressure and I would think our pressure rate was probably the same as it was in the LSU game, it was a different deal, you’re not playing against a spread team and they’re going to spread you out. They created some bigger surfaces and had two tight ends, three tight ends, different than the LSU game there’s a lot of empty [backfield], a lot of no tight ends and sometimes you can get home a little easier in those pressure situations, but we didn’t play well enough to win tonight, so.
Was your secondary's performance acceptable?
We're gonna watch the tape and make corrections. I'm not gonna make any conjectures here in terms of one position or another position, that's just not what we do. We win as a team, we lose as a team and that's what it is. But I think our biggest issue tonight was rushing the football. They threw for 179 yards, they threw for 290 yards – I mean, they ran for 290 yards. It was our rush defense tonight that we were very concerned with.
How close was Dorian to being ready to play?
He was unavailable.
When did you find out he was unavailable?
When did you find out he was unavailable?
We talk about all the things and when the doctors and Dorian put their heads together in terms of where we are, made a decision today that he was unavailable tonight.
Decision made earlier today, after warmups?
Just, we just talk it through as a group and they told me he was unavailable.
He was warming up though?
You saw him practice this week too.
Was it after warmups, before the game?
He was unavailable.
Expect him back next game?
I don't expect anybody back. I don't have any answers to the crystal ball, so we will see how the week goes and how our training session goes and then we'll get ready. We had kids that practiced all week long that were unavailable today, that practiced Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and then were unavailable on Saturday. So you guys think I'm trying to evade something, we had a kid who practiced all week long that didn't play in the game tonight. So I can't tell you if someone practiced all week long, on game day something happens and then they can't play, they're unavailable. So when they're unavailable, they're unavailable.
What is this team right now?
We're 5-4. That's our record, so that's what we are right now
Assessment of the performance at 5-4?
We're 5-4. I think this team battles, I think this team's resilient, I love their effort and I love how they approach every day. I love how they train, I love everything they do. But there's some things we have to clean up to win games in this league, especially we know how difficult it is to win games on the road, we talked about that coming in here. So that's part of the deal. We knew what type of football team Utah is, when you watch what they did to Arizona State, Arizona State had a lead at halftime, they scored 20 unanswered and came back and won that game. So every game in this league is a battle, no matter who you are and who you're playing and you gotta come to play every single week and you gotta follow the plan to win, you gotta prevent X plays, you gotta create turnovers, you gotta prevent yourself from turning the football over, you gotta be disciplined in the penalty game and then you gotta win in special teams. So that plan to win doesn't change on a weekly basis, it's still the same things that affect the outcome of the game.
Is being resilient and coming close enough, do you need more?
Yeah, you just asked me about my team. I wasn't justifying anything else besides that, Ben. So that wasn't what I was saying, so I think you misinterpreted that.
Is what you said enough at this point?
What do you mean what is enough?
Being close and fighting hard
I didn't say being close and fighting hard was enough. He asked me what we were, I said 5-4, that's what we are, we're 5-4. So we still got a lot of football to be played this season. But I wouldn't bet against that group in that room there, that group in that room there's awesome and I love those kids. So we'll be right back at it, those guys will get in on Monday for film and lifting, we'll be back on the field on Wednesday and Friday next week and then get ready to go play our next game.