UCLA football coach Chip Kelly talks about the status of quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson and the Bruins’ standing in the Pac-12 and bowl race.
Dorian available to throw?
How's he progressing?
He's doing a great job.
How has Ethan looked?
Ethan's done a really nice job. I think, from when he got here last spring, been progressing all the way through, done a really nice job, got a great grasp on what we're doing, real comfortable with Ethan.
Same thing, he's working. He's available today.
Dorian throwing passes in other periods of practice?
He's done a lot of different things this week, so we'll see how it goes.
Game plan change for Garbers?
No, we wouldn't game plan differently. Ethan can run our whole offense and we grasp the whole thing that Ethan can do and Ethan and Dorian are very similar.
Ethan not the same runner as Dorian
That's not true.
His brother's the all-time leading rusher at the University of California. Garbers family are really good athletes, so don't underestimate him. Sleep on him, he's not a good rusher
Leading quarterback rusher?
Yeah, he's the leading quarterback rusher in Cal history. Garbers are good athletes.
Yeah I know
No you don't, cause you just questioned it. Well, so, you don't know. Did you know that his brother was the all-time leading rusher at Cal?
You said rusher, not quarterback rusher
As a quarterback.
Very different than all-time leading rusher
Quarterback. It was a big record last week, they came out and talked about it. Been a lot of really good quarterbacks at Cal too.
Yeah, he's a dynamic player. He's come in, he didn't start the year but they've kind of settled on him as a starter. I think he's obviously similar to most college quarterbacks now, he can beat you with his arm and his legs. Seems like he's a really accurate passer, he's got a really good grasp of what Andy Ludwig's asking him to do in that offense and they seemed like once they inserted him into the lineup, they've taken off offensively. So really good football player.
Impact game plan knowing Devin Lloyd is out for the first half with targeting?
Their scheme is pretty similar, I don't know if, when you go through it, because he wasn't gone that long. He's been around for a long time, so I don't know if that impacts how they're gonna call the game. We're obviously aware that he's not gonna be in there in the first half, but schematically, they've been doing the things since coach Whittingham was the defensive coordinator there, so they've been doing things – their system, defensively, has been in place for a long, long time. I couldn't tell you cause there isn't enough tape to say 'Do they call things slightly differently when Devin's in or Devin's not in?' So we won't know that til the game unfolds.
Challenges of being the visiting team when Utah is honoring Ty Jordan and Aaron Lowe?
Yeah, we've not even thought about it or talked about it. Obviously our thoughts and prayers are with the whole Utah family. That's a – to lose a player in the prime of his life like that kind of puts the game of football actually in perspective. We don't think of it that way, we think of it of our thoughts and prayers are with Utah and the whole Utah community in terms of what happened in that tragedy.
Talked to Whittingham about it?
I talked to Whit when it first happened. We sent them a card and just reached out to him. I've never dealt with that as a head coach in my career. That's a pretty difficult thing, whatever we can do to support them, and that's what we did when we sent a card to their entire team from our team just saying 'Hey, we're thinking about you and our thoughts and prayers are with you.'
Whose idea to send that card?
All of us, we do everything together.
Similar situation going to Utah this time after 2019? Must-win?
Have to win to stay in contention for the Pac-12 South
You always have to win to stay in contention for the Pac-12 South. We're not talking about something that happened two years ago, one year ago, five years ago. Gotta win all your games in league as possible and pick your head up in December and see if that's good enough. But we've never talked about rankings or this thing and what's their schedule and who's this and who's that. You can go round and round and round with scenarios but if you don't win, then it really doesn't matter. So our sole focus is on playing against a really well-coached, talented Utah team.
One win away from bowl eligibility for the first time in your tenure?
What do you think the answer to that question is?
Going to ask it anyways
We have not talked about it.
Not asking if you talked about it – putting on the big-picture hat you don't like wearing...
Yeah, I don’t have to. It’s not that I don’t like wearing it; I don’t even own it. I don’t have a big-picture hat.
Six wins barely gets you to bowl eligibility, is that the floor or ceiling?
That’s not even a, I don’t even entertain the question because that’s not what we’re talking about. Our sole focus is on playing Utah, so we’ve never once had a conversation about, do we want to get to six wins or do we want to get to nine wins or do we want to get to 10 wins. We want to have a really good Wednesday and I know that’s boring to you guys and for some reason you don’t accept my answer, but the answer’s always been the same. That’s what we do, that’s what we’re all about, we’re about the process. We’re very outcome-aware but we’re process-oriented in terms of everything we do. So for me to then go off script and say, ‘Hey, we do talk about that,’ we don’t, we have to be efficient with our time, so our deal is, we have to have a really, really good Wednesday to prepare for a really well-coached team and a really talented team in Utah. We play football for what we become, not what we get, so we’ll get something out of that, that’s not what we’re all about, so.
Fans who spend the money want to know about more than having a good Wednesday, thoughts of big-picture bowls in people's heads?
Our big-picture goal is to be the best version of ourselves.
Big-picture bowls, not goals
OK, they can have that. I’m not controlling their thoughts. I wish I was that strong, that I could mmmmm and tell them what to think. I’m not telling them what to think, I’m telling how we approach things, that’s what the question’s about, and that’s how we approach things, so that doesn’t mean that they’re not allowed to have goals and dreams and aspirations. They can have all of those, as much as they want, and they can paint beautiful pictures in their mind but we have to focus on what’s the most important thing and the most important thing is what is next—what is next for us is training today and that’s the definition of mental toughness, your ability to focus on the next-most-important thing and the next-most-important thing is practice on Wednesday, not where we’re going to go, where we’re going to spend Christmas and all those other things. If you do that, you get distracted. I told you the sports psychology aspect of it—if you want to reduce 80% of your anxiety, you live in the moment, don’t live in the future, so that’s what we’re trying to focus on.
Cam Johnson out with targeting, others getting ready?
Same thing. And we rotate those guys so Jay Shaw and Devin Kirkwood have been playing out there a ton, so those guys will play in the first half and then we’ll get Cam back for the second half, so.
How is Kirkwood looking?
Kirkwood’s played all season, so he’s looked very good all season long, had a big pick for us in the Washington game to help us win that football game, but Devin’s done a nice job, Devin’s played since the Hawaii game, so he’s played in every single game this year and has played a significant amount of snaps, so the fact that we have to rotate Dev and Jay out there, I think everybody feels comfortable with those two guys playing the field corner and we have Mo and Obi into the boundary, so.
Chase Griffin NIL magnet despite being 3rd string?
What it says about Chase is that he’s just a special young man—we’ve known that from the time we started recruiting him, so he’s sharp, if you have an opportunity for NIL deals and you want a great representative for you, you should contact him. He’s a great young man and we’re really proud of him. He’s graduated undergrad from here in 2½ years, he’s already enrolled in grad school, Chase is a special, special person, so I think the companies, or whoever they are—and I don’t know who they are—that are involved with Chase are pretty smart because Chase, I’d want Chase, and I say it a lot, but if you want to buy stock in a human being, buy stock in Chase Griffin because he’s just starting taking off. That kid is a really special person.