There’s a reason freshman Kazmeir Allen of UCLA won the 100 meters at the state track and field championships last year at Tulare High. He’s got blazing speed.
And everyone at the Rose Bowl on Saturday got to see how fast Allen is. He took a handoff from Dorian Thompson-Robinson with 12:49 left in the third quarter and took off, racing 74 yards around the right end for a touchdown that tied the game against Cincinnati at 17-17.
UCLA coach Chip Kelly said at halftime he needed to get the ball to his playmakers to create openings on the outside, and that’s exactly what Allen did.
When redshirt freshman quarterback Desmond Ridder came off the bench in the first quarter for Cincinnati at the Rose Bowl, the Bearcats’ offense took off.
He has led Cincinnati to a 17-10 halftime lead over UCLA in the coaching debut of Chip Kelly for the Bruins.
Ridder, who came to Cincinnati from Louisville, Ky., rallied the Bearcats from a 10-0 deficit. His agility and ability to run and pass made him look far more like a Chip Kelly quarterback from his Oregon days than the two quarterbacks playing for the Bruins in the first half.
Quarterback Wilton Speight was shaken up on a scramble with 5:16 left in the second quarter, and freshman Dorian Thompson-Robinson received an ovation coming onto the field from UCLA fans at the Rose Bowl.
A year ago, on Sept. 1, he was playing football for Las Vegas Bishop Gorman making his first varsity start at quarterback against Santa Ana Mater Dei and quarterback J.T. Daniels.
Thompson-Robinson completed a 16-yard pass to Theo Howard on his second play from scrimmage but the drive stalled. UCLA is down 14-10 with 2:19 left before halftime.
Redshirt freshman quarterback Desmond Ridder of Cincinnati found a way to open up the offense with his play-making skills to start the second quarter against UCLA.
Using the option play and some timely passes, the Bearcats put together a 75-yard, 14-play drive to cut their deficit to 10-7 at the Rose Bowl. Michael Warren scored on a one-yard run with 10:02 left in the quarter.
The Bearcats ran seven minutes off the clock on the drive. Ridder is six for six passing for 53 yards.
UCLA fans didn’t have to wait long to find out about the new Chip Kelly offense. The Bruins won the coin toss and elected to receive. Michigan transfer Wilton Speight took his first snap from true freshman center Chris Murray, who played on last year’s 15-0 Mater Dei team with quarterback J.T. Daniels of USC.
The Bruins didn’t move much, starting on their own 22 and getting to the 26 before having to punt after three plays. Speight completed a seven-yard pass to Caleb Wilson for his first completion as a Bruin.
Keisean Lucier-South, expected to make an impact at defensive end, recorded a sack on the Bearcats’ first possession.
The Chip Kelly Era is about to begin, and UCLA fans can’t wait to see whether the Bruins’ offense will resemble the Oregon Ducks or the Philadelphia Eagles, two of Kelly’s previous coaching destinations.
The expectation against Cincinnati at the Rose Bowl is for a no-huddle attack with quick play calls. It’s been a well-kept secret because of closed practices. There’s also questions how Kelly will use UCLA’s many tight ends, led by Caleb Wilson, who returns from injury.
Another mystery is how many of UCLA’s true freshmen will make their debuts. Because of a new NCAA rule that allows anyone to play in the first four games, then redshirt, it makes sense to give young players an immediate shot.