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Opponent Offense Preview: UCLA Bruins

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 09 UCLA at Arizona Photo by Christopher Hook/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Chip Kelly isn’t quite up to the same antics he was as the head coach at Oregon, but he’s got UCLA playing as well as he ever has in his tenure. They run the ball, and keep a tight rotation on offense - a receiver, a tight end, and two running backs, to along with QB Dorian Thompson-Robinson, contribute nearly all the offense’s production. With an offense built around the run game, they like to take their deep shots to maintain explosiveness. They don’t attempt a ton of passes every game, but they rank 11th in the country in yards per completion.

Key Stats

Yards per completion: 15.5

Points per game: 35

Yards per play: 6.3

Rushing attempts per game: 43.5

Starting RBs yards per rush: 6.4

Staying Grounded

For UCLA it all starts on the ground with the running back duo of Zach Charbonnet and Brittain Brown. They have similar statistics on the season but Charbonnet is certainly the headliner. He’s scored seven touchdowns to go along with 566 yards compared to four touchdowns and 442 yards for Brown. Both are physical, between the tackles runners who are tough to bring down. What they lack in straight line speed they make up for with power and consistency, averaging over 6 yards per carry a piece. For better or for worse, if one replaces the other, it doesn’t constitute a change of pace for UCLA. As Chip Kelly himself says, “With both Brittain and Zach, our offensive mentality, our offensive identity doesn’t change.”

UCLA v Arizona Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

This all adds up to an efficient and powerful rushing attack ranked 28th in expected points added. The better a team’s rushing EPA is, the better they are at getting the yards they need in a given situation. If it’s 1st and 10, gaining three yards is...fine. But those same three yards on 3rd and 2, and it’s a whole different story. For context Washington is (look away) 102nd in rushing EPA.

At quarterback, Dorian Thompson-Robinson is far less efficient than his backfield partners at only 3.5 yards per rush, mostly due to having less designed runs and more scrambles. However, he is slippery, mobile, and shows impressive burst. He will be difficult to keep in the pocket.

Through the Air

Dorian Thompson-Robinson has shown steady improvement every year at UCLA. He began as an athlete with almost no feel for playing quarterback, and barely any feel for the game of the football. He’s improved significantly since then and shows exciting upside, but still can improve. He’s the type of quarterback equally likely to make a Heisman caliber play, and then have a bizarre fumble on the next. He’s never been the most consistently accurate passer but has cut down on the turnovers while still being aggressive pushing the ball downfield. His 11:2 touchdown to interception and 8.8 yards per attempt prove he is not afraid to take his shots deep.

His primary targets are WR Kyle Phillips and TE Greg Dulcic, with 24 and 19 receptions a piece. Third on the team in catches in Zach Charbonnet - ultimately DTR is only looking in a couple places every time he drops back. In Phillips, he has the Pac-12 leader in touchdown catches with six. He’s had at least two catches in every game this year and his only quiet games were in resounding victories against Arizona and Hawaii. He and Dulcic shoulder the load for this pass game.

UCLA v Oregon Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images

That’s all for now. Go Dawgs!