Bruin fans have a lot to be excited about after the UCLA football team earned an 8-4 overall record during the 2021 season. After beating the likes of LSU and USC, UCLA came in second in the Pac-12 South and third in the entire conference.
“We finished up last year strong, three big wins in conference to finish the season, plus-81-point differential,” said UCLA football head coach Chip Kelly. “We had six players drafted off last year’s team, the most in the conference.”
The Bruins is hoping to build on their momentum from last year with the addition of six new assistant coaches and 15 transfers. Among the new personnel is defensive coordinator Bill McGovern. The changes in staff have not affected the energy of the defensive line, according to senior defensive back Stephan Blaylock.
“We have a lot of energetic young cats. Devin Kirkwood, I’ve never seen him down really … that’s endless energy right there,” he said. “Even from the coaches, from the outside linebacker to the defensive coordinator, I feel like they’re all on the same page with what they want to do and what we want to accomplish.”
The football roster currently holds 16 honor roll students and 20 graduate students.
Despite the new faces, there will be familiarity in the quarterback position as Dorian Thompson-Robinson will be the starting signal caller for a fifth year.
“Obviously he’s physically matured from when he came in as a freshman five years ago,” Kelly said about Thompson-Robinson. “The work he’s put in physically in the weight room, trying to make his body stronger, bigger, faster.”
Last season Thompson-Robinson led the conference in total offense per game, passing efficiency and yards per completion. In their 62-33 victory over the USC Trojans, UCLA learned how to bring consistent competitive energy throughout a game, according to senior defensive back Stephan Blaylock.
“We had turnovers on offense and then it was left to the defense to see what we can do,” he said. “We stuck along, we fought and made sure that if anything, we was going to create a turnover or at least give up three points.”
The Bruin defense held five teams to under 200 rushing yards while their offense ran for at least 200 yards in all eight victories last season. Senior rusher Zach Charbonnet was a leader in the offensive effort, coming in second in the Pac-12 in rushing average. In seven games, he ran for over 100 yards.
The first three games will be at the Rose Bowl, two of which will kick off before noon.
“We want to do our job because we’re competitive. At the end of the day, everything will handle itself,” said senior offensive lineman Jon Gaines II. “We handle our job on a day-in-day-out basis, everything will handle itself.”
UCLA will start their season playing against Bowling Green on September 3 11:30A.M.