UCLA’s season-opener against Colorado on the road Saturday provided flashbacks to last year’s shootout against Washington State.
Unfortunately for the Bruins, they didn’t return home with a victory. It was the third straight loss in the season-opener under coach Chip Kelly. The other two losses were against nationally-ranked Cincinnati.
The Bruins will have several things to address both on and off the field this week.
Off the field, UCLA must work to keep the coaches and players healthy, after one player tested positive for coronavirus before the game in Colorado. UCLA is unable to release the name of the player who tested positive without the player’s consent.
Players for both teams were tested Saturday morning and without the announcement of any other positive tests, the season-opener was played as scheduled.
The same could not be said about UCLA’s opponent this week, Utah. The Utes had to cancel their opener against Arizona because the number of positive cases for COVID-19 on the team. The game was ruled a no contest.
The Bruins’ home opener against Utah was rescheduled by the Pac-12 on Sunday to allow more time for Utah’s players to clear COVID-19 protocols. Instead of playing on Friday, Nov. 13, the game will be played Saturday, Nov. 14 at 7:30 p.m. (PST) and will be televised by Fox.
Kelly said during Saturday’s postgame press conference that the Pac-12 was working on a resolution to make the game happen. It is unclear if the decision Sunday to move the game back a day is the final resolution or if another change could happen during the week.
When the Bruins return to the field, they must work on holding onto the football. Three of the Bruins’ four turnovers were fumbles.
Quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson also had one of his passes intercepted by Colorado. The Buffaloes scored three touchdowns off the Bruins’ turnovers.
“We put our defense in some adverse situations in the first half,” Kelly said about the turnovers. “We dug too big of a hole after being down 35-14 at half. We have to do a better job securing the football.”
The Bruins played their best football in the third quarter, scoring 21 points, which included a Thompson-Robinson’s 65-yard touchdown run 36 seconds into the second half. He finished the game with a team-high 109 rushing yards.
“Whatever it took to win I was going to do,” Thompson-Robinson said after the game. “They had a good defensive line and they put a lot of pressure on me. I was getting hit around a bit for the first time in a while and it kind of took a toll on me.”
Colorado’s defense sacked Thompson-Robinson only one time but recorded eight hits on the quarterback.
Four other players carried the ball out of the backfield, including Keegan Jones and Kazmeir Allen. Starting running back Demetric Felton had a team-high 10 carries for 57 yards and a touchdown.
Felton was seen running up and down the sideline late in the game.
“He had to come out, but I think he will be OK,” Kelly said, but he wouldn’t get into specifics or about the severity of the injury.
Backup running back Brittain Brown was limited to one carry for a loss of 5 yards in his UCLA debut.
Thompson-Robinson completed 20 of 40 passes for 303 yards, including four touchdowns.
“Penalties and turnovers are something you can’t do if you are trying to win football games in this league,” Kelly said. “You need to win the turnover battle and avoid the self-inflicted (problems). It seemed like there were a lot of flags on both sides.”
The Bruins had nine penalties called against them for 69 yards. Colorado had nine for 90 yards.