UCLA football coach Chip Kelly talks to the media about Jay Toia’s status, Dorian Thompson-Robinson’s injury timeline and the responsibilities he and his defensive staff are handling at this point in the season.
Seen the Jay Toia video?
Yeah, we’re aware of the video and we’re following university protocols on student conduct.
Still practicing with the team right now?
We are aware of the video and we are following university protocols on student conduct.
Pretty simple question – is he practicing today?
And that’s a pretty simple answer—we are aware of the video and we are following university protocols on student conduct.
Have you personally see the video?
What do you think?
Again, we are aware of the situation and we are following student protocols.
Azzinaro hasn't spoken to the media in four years, shouldn't he be available or have some accountability?
Yeah, that’s Azz’s choice, so. That’s his choice on what he wants to do, so.
Shouldn't he be available to speak with us at some point about what's happening with his defense?
Yeah, I think it’s his choice. It’s the United States of America, we’re not going to force anybody to do anything, so that’s his choice that he doesn’t want to speak to the media, so.
So you don't think there's a level of accountability?
There is a level of accountability, Ben. Just because he doesn’t talk to you doesn’t mean there’s not a level of accountability, so I think you’re convoluting two things, so that’s not how I see it. That may be how you see it and that’s your choice, too, because there is choice in this country, so.
How do you asses his performance?
I assess everybody’s performance, so it’s a whole group thing. It’s not one person that does one thing; it’s an entire group whether it’s offensively, defensively, special teams – there’s not one person who just does something and no one else has any input, that’s not how things have ever operated, so it’s a total group thing, so it’s everybody. There were games this year where we played outstanding on defense, and there were some games where we could play better and that’s everybody, that’s the whole group.
Does the blend of who's making what decisions change over the course of the season based on production and results?
No, again, the entire group makes decisions all week long. It’s not like one guy sits in an office all by himself and then comes out with, ‘Hey, this is what we’re doing’ and guys wait around to find out it’s what we’re doing. We all meet, it’s a collaboration whether it’s offensively, defensively or special teams. We all meet for a very, very long time on both sides of the ball about everything that we’re doing and we put together our plans and then go through practice, watch practice tape, execute those plans and everything. And it’s not that way anywhere, so I don’t know—maybe there’s a misconception of that, but it’s not that way anywhere I’ve ever been in my life where there was one guy that tells everybody else what to do and then there is no collaboration and nobody has any input on anything, so we’re all part of the process and that’s the way it’s always been everywhere I’ve been, so.
Run defense fixes?
I mean, going into the game we were ranked first in the Pac-12 and 13th in the country, so I thought going into it our defense had played really well from a run standpoint and we did not play well from a run standpoint last Saturday, so we’ll get back out on the practice field today and that’s what improvement week is all about, making corrections from the previous games and then getting ready to do a little sprinkling of what we’re going to do against Colorado.
Have to be more aggressive without any sacks?
I know that but what’s aggressive? Blitz? We blitzed. We blitzed a lot in that game, actually, so it’s not—although you’ve got to watch the tape and understood what we did, there was a lot of pressure that was called in that game and I think, did we get home with the pressure and make plays when we had to make plays? No, we didn’t and we understand that, so we’ll make the proper corrections. We’ve got to get off the blocks, we’ve got to do a lot of different things, it’s part of the process, but our run defense up until the Utah game had actually played really well.
Players have to speak on behalf of the defense's performance when Azzinaro doesn't talk to the media – is that fair to the player?
I don't think the linebacker has to answer for it. I think, ultimately, everything falls on my shoulders. I'm available all the time so I don't think our players have to answer for our coaches. The head coach talks at every availability, so.
They have to answer for what's happening on the field
Well that's because of the questions that you ask, they're not answering for that. I'm here, and you can ask me the questions and I answer the questions, so I'm here for every availability.
You're not in charge of the defense though
Again, we're all part of – I'm in charge of everything, Ben. I'm in charge of the offense, I'm in charge of the defense, I'm in charge of the special teams, I'm in charge of the food, I'm in charge of it all.
Possible Utah was that much more physical that you in regard to the run defense?
I don't get into the possibilities, we always just break down the mechanics – where were we, what gap were we supposed to be in, what was our responsibility on each individual play and then we'll break it down that way. So it's not – I don't look at an overarching – and we're not looking for one word or one sentence that will encapsulate what went wrong with the run defense, we're not looking to write an article. We're looking to how do we make the proper adjustments so that when we play Colorado in 10 days here, we're in better shape, put ourselves in a better situation.
Six of the nine teams you've played are outside the top 75 in rushing, so everyone has stopped them, not just you
We play who's on our schedule, so we don't schedule teams based upon how well they rush the ball or how well they don't rush the ball, so.
Those stats show that your No. 13 rank in the country might have been a little misleading
We don't look at that, I was just pointing that out to you. We looked at how did we play against Utah. So we don't look at the Utah game and say, 'Hey, we were good in rush defense before that game started so let's not worry about it.' We gotta make the proper corrections from the Utah game.
What are you working on in this improvement week?
It depends on the position, but there's a lot of – I think it's always centered on fundamentals cause the game of football is about fundamentals. That's sticking on blocks on the offensive side of the ball, getting off blocks on the defensive side of the ball, tackling on defense, catching the ball, securing the catch, ball security, decision making for the quarterbacks, where are we in terms of how can we get better at what we're doing or what part of our game plan is. Do we need more work on the quick game, do we need more work on play action? Putting it all together in terms of just building as the season goes along, I think sometimes, you can kind of lose sight of the fundamental aspect of games, but the game is always about fundamentals and we've been a real individual fundamental team and you work that through. But sometimes as you get going on during the course of the season, you're focused more on the scheme, but you gotta get back to really focusing on the fundamentals cause the game of football is about fundamentals.
Get a $10,000 bonus if this team wins six games – is six wins worthy of a bonus at UCLA?
I don't have anything to – I don't, I didn't even know that.
It was in your contract, you signed it
I know I signed – I didn't – yeah – I don't – I never – I wasn't aware of that aspect cause I didn't look at that, so I'm not.
Now that you do know, what are your thoughts on it?
Yeah, my thoughts on the bonus?
Getting a bonus for reaching six wins
I think that's part of every college coach's contract.
Most of them, yeah, I would think. If you went through the history – there's a guy for USA Today that publishes them all the time so you can go through the history of what contracts are in college football and how those all work, so.
Recruiting during bye week?
Yeah, we were actually out yesterday. A whole bunch of the staff was out yesterday. We went to a lot of schools, watch practice. I was at practice yesterday. We have a certain amount of evaluation days that you can take in the fall, and we use all of our evaluation days. So we have guys out. We are fortunate because we have two byes. We had guys out the first bye, we’ve got guys out (now). There are guys that came back today that will be back out tomorrow. Some of them, like coach Gundy, are still out. He didn’t come back, so he won’t be at practice today. Whatever the amount of evaluation days they give you, we use all of our evaluation days. Probably not unlike any other team in the country – I think we all do it depending on your schedule, and I think that’s how a lot of that works. For us, getting to practice is a really big thing. Because games you can get the film of, but you’re not going to get film from practice and you want to see how kids are at practice. So we really hit the early part of the week hard, and that’s why we are out early this week. And we will be out again tomorrow.
Nice to have bye ahead of signing period?
It’s actually… No, to be honest with you. Because in some places the playoffs have started. So if there are one or two kids you want to see, they may not be practicing. Their season may be done. It depends on where you’re recruiting and what their season is. I know in Utah they are in the quarterfinals now. So if you’re a team that’s not a top-8 team in 5A or 6A, then you’re not practicing. I agree with your point, closer to signing day sometimes is a little bit better, but you also have to look at the area. I know in California, the first round of the CIF start this week, so if there is a team you were looking at or wanted to go see a player but his team didn’t qualify for the playoffs, then he not practicing this week. When you go to the evaluation at the school, then you’re not watching the kid doing an athletic evaluation, you’re picking up a transcript and talking to other coaches and teachers and guidance counselors and whatnot at the school, but you’re not actually seeing the kid run around on the practice field. So a lot of it depends on the schedule. I think it was beneficial that we got our guys out and being able to split our days up when we had that first bye because we played the Week 0 game.
Chase Griffin and Alec Anderson?
Chase Griffin is, Alec Anderson is not.
Bye coming at a good time for Dorian?
I don't understand the –
Recovering from an injury, now gets two weeks vs. one to recover
I don’t think th two weeks matters.
So what does that mean? Does that mean he’s not playing against Colorado?
I didn’t say that. I don’t know who’s playing against anybody because we’ll wait until we get to game day. I think you’re off on the timing aspect of things. Because he’ll be full in practice today.