Kickoff is scheduled for Saturday at 7:30 pm PT on ESPN2.
First Look at UCLA
2018 Record: 1-5 (1-2 Pac-12)
- Week 1 loss vs. Cincinnati (26-17)
- Week 5 loss at Colorado (38-16)
- Week 6 loss vs. Washington (31-24)
- Week 7 win at Cal (37-7)
Key Offensive Players: Dorian Thompson-Robinson (QB), Joshua Kelley (RB), Caleb Wilson (TE), Theo Howard (WR)
Key Defensive Players: Keisean Lucier-South (LB), Krys Barnes (LB), Darnay Holmes (CB), Adarius Pickett (Safety)
Chip Kelly’s return to college football hasn’t played out as many thought it would. It took UCLA six games to capture their first win of the season. Despite having many talented players remaining from former head coach Jim Mora, the Bruins haven’t been able to piece it together.
Coming into the season, the quarterback position was expected to be occupied by Michigan transfer Wilton Speight. If not him, some would have guessed it would have been redshirt sophomore/former Arizona commit Devon Modster who appeared in five games last season.
Speight did win the job during fall camp but suffered an injury early in the season and got Wally Pipp’d. True freshman Dorian Thompson-Robinson was inserted into the lineup and has been the starter ever since.
Running back was another position that seemed to be solidified coming into the season by seniors Soso Jamabo and Bolu Olorunfunmi. in 2017, they combined for 207 carries for 1,011 yards and 11 touchdowns.
Jamabo was suspended for a violation of team rules early in the season and Olorunfunmi just was never able to produce.
Collectively, the running backs really struggled over the first few weeks. Then, after their bye week, just in time for conference play, they found their guy. Redshirt junior Joshua Kelley is riding a three game streak of 100+ yards and has found the end zone four times.
Thompson-Robinson has struggled to find rhythm in the passing game, but has come on of late. In his last two games, he has completed 40 of 53 passes for 413 yards, three touchdowns, and an interception.
His two leading receivers are Theo Howard and tight end Caleb Wilson who have combined for 48 receptions, 622 yards and three touchdowns.
Most of UCLA’s talent resides on the defensive side of the ball. The Bruins landed two of the best defensive players in the 2017 class in cornerback Darnay Holmes and linebacker Jaelan Phillips. They were the first pair of true freshmen to start the season opener in UCLA program history.
Phillips had established himself as one of the key contributors in the linebacking unit before being declared out for the rest of the season due to a concussion. Running back Soso Jamabo has also been ruled out for the remainder of the season for a concussion.
Holmes has established himself as one of the best corners in the conference. He along side fellow secondary members Adarius Pickett and Nate Meadows create a very challenging matchup for Arizona.
Two key players to watch within the linebacking unit are Keisean Lucier-South and Krys Barnes. These two upperclassmen will miss Phillips but provide more than enough talent and experience to fill his void.
It’s unknown if Khalil Tate will be available for this matchup. After re-aggravating his ankle injury on the second drive of the Utah game, he didn’t play another snap.
Even if Tate is available, there’s no telling how effective he’ll be. It’s fair to assume that his health will likely dictate the outcome of this game.