The UCLA Bruins defeated the North Carolina Central Eagles by a score of 59-7 in a game that really was never competitive. Here’s what we learned.
This One Was Over Before It Started
Well, maybe not before it started, but pretty much right as it started. On the first snap of the game, Bruins Quarterback Dante Moore found Kam Brown wide-open off a play fake for a 67-yard touchdown. Three plays later, NC Central QB Davius Richard had his pass intercepted by Laiatu Latu while trying to set up a screen. Latu took it down to the one and Carson Steele took it in after that. Things pretty much continued like that afterward, as UCLA scored five touchdowns in the first quarter.
Chip Kelly Gives Backups Plenty Of Time
Pretty much the whole Bruins roster got to play in this one. Chip Kelly played all five of his quarterbacks and got pretty much everyone involved, particularly when it came to the Bruins’ ground game.
Ground Game Is Dominant
With 404 yards rushing, UCLA ran for almost twice as many yards as they threw for. And while that obviously won’t be the case against better opponents, that’s the kind of football Chip Kelly would like to play in his ideal world.
Anthony Adkins got most of the work 96 yards and a touchdown on 10 carries. Carson Steele, TJ Harden, Colson Yankoff, and QB Collin Schlee were all productive.
We saw a lot of Kelly’s favorite running plays, a power run from the shotgun where, unlike most shotgun runs, the back runs toward the same side of the field where he is set to begin the play. Zach Charbonnet did serious work with this run last year, and it gets the backs downfield in a hurry. We also saw Kelly utilize some read option with the quarterback running, as RB Colson Yankoff and QB Colin Schlee combined for over 100 yards and 3 touchdowns on the ground.
NC Central Avoids The Shutout
The Eagles finally got on the board with 6:08 left in the fourth quarter for their only touchdown of the day. Until then, it was all Bruins. Credit to the Eagles for avoiding the shutout, but outside of that one touchdown, this one was about as one-sided as it gets.
The Real Season Begins Now
UCLA has shown us a lot of good over the past three weeks. Coastal Carolina and SDSU were both potential trap games, and the Bruins were able to come away from both with a win. They look sound in pretty much all three phases.
But this is when the real season begins. Next week, UCLA goes on the road to face a really good Utah team, a place where they haven’t won since 2015.
We’re going to learn a lot about the character of this Bruins team as they make their way through the conference schedule in what will be the final season of the Pac-12. This conference is as good as it’s ever been, and that’s not hyperbole. There’s a reason this Bruins team hasn’t been mentioned nationally among the top teams of the Pac-12. They could end up being a very good football team and still finish 4th or 5th in the Pac-12.
I would love to see the Bruins prove everybody wrong and go on a run, but it’s not going to be easy. And it all starts next week against Utah, with about as tough a test as you can get.
Does UCLA have what it takes?