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UCLA vs. Washington: Bruins prepare for grueling stretch

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Arizona wide receiver Stanley Berryhill III is tackled by UCLA defensive back Qwuantrezz Knight
Arizona wide receiver Stanley Berryhill III (1) is tackled by UCLA defensive back Qwuantrezz Knight (24) Saturday in Tucson.
(Chris Coduto / Associated Press)

UCLA is working to address issues that flared up during its win over Arizona as it enters the toughest portion of its Pac-12 schedule.

UCLA coach Chip Kelly says he didn’t consider playing backup quarterback Ethan Garbers against Arizona

UCLA quarterback Ethan Garbers looks to pass against Hawaii on Aug. 28
UCLA quarterback Ethan Garbers looks to pass against Hawaii on Aug. 28 in Los Angeles.
(Kyusung Gong / Associated Press)

Garbage time was apparently no time for Ethan Garbers.

Even with his team leading Arizona by 15 points, the Wildcats down to their backup quarterback and his own quarterback having acknowledged earlier in the week that he was nowhere close to 100%, UCLA coach Chip Kelly stuck with Dorian Thompson-Robinson on the Bruins’ final drive Saturday.

Kelly said Monday he never considered putting in Garbers because the score was too close for his comfort.

“It was only a two-score game,” Kelly said, “and we were trying to make it a three-score game.”

The Bruins did just that, driving for a 43-yard Nicholas Barr-Mira field goal that provided the game’s final points with 1:43 left in UCLA’s 34-16 victory.

UCLA quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson holds the ball on the field
UCLA quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson scrambles during a difficult first half against Arizona on Saturday in Tucson.
(Chris Coduto / Associated Press)

Kelly said he also did not consider going with Garbers to start the second half after Thompson-Robinson had endured his worst half as a Bruin, completing one of eight passes for three yards with one touchdown and one interception. Thompson-Robinson somewhat salvaged his performance after halftime and finished the game completing eight of 19 passes for 82 yards with the one touchdown and one interception.

Thompson-Robinson also ran for two short touchdowns.

“I thought Dorian did a really nice job managing what we had to do offensively,” Kelly said. “They were a very complex coverage operation in terms of doubling, cutting receivers, some of those other things, so being able to sort that out, along with the blitz package that they had, I thought Dorian did a really nice job.”

Where does that leave Garbers in his development?

“We work every day in practice,” Kelly said, “and if the opportunity presents itself in a game, then we’ll get him in a game.”

The redshirt freshman who transferred from Washington has appeared briefly in two games this season, replacing Thompson-Robinson for one play against Stanford and for the final quarter of UCLA’s blowout victory against Hawaii in its season opener. Garbers has thrown two passes as a Bruin, completing them both for 18 yards.

If Garbers gets to play Saturday, it would be against the team that tried — and failed — to block his immediate eligibility this season after he entered the transfer portal. UCLA is playing at Washington at Husky Stadium.

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UCLA used silver screens on sideline against Arizona to prevent sign stealing

UCLA really upped its screen game Saturday.

The Bruins used giant silver screens to shield their offensive play calls from the Arizona press box in what coach Chip Kelly acknowledged was an effort to keep the Wildcats from stealing signs.

“We’re just always trying to protect what we do on the offensive side of the ball,” Kelly said Monday, two days after his team’s 34-16 victory over Arizona.

As part of the arrangement, the screen holders would move behind backup quarterback Chase Griffin and the others signaling offensive plays and unfurl the screens before each play. It was the first time this season the Bruins had used the screens.

UCLA coach Chip Kelly gestures from the sideline
UCLA coach Chip Kelly gestures from the sideline during a win over Arizona on Saturday.
(Chris Coduto / Associated Press)

Kelly said the screens were a collective idea of his coaching staff. Asked if there was anything in particular about Arizona that prompted the use of the screens and if he would use them in future games, Kelly said, “Depends on who we’re playing and what we feel going into the game.”

One possible motivation for the screens: Arizona passing game coordinator and quarterbacks coach Jimmie Dougherty was part of Kelly’s staff for his first three seasons at UCLA and is familiar with the team’s terminology and play calls from that era.

Asked about the screens preventing Arizona’s coaches standing across the field from seeing the signs, Kelly said, “Figure it out.”

Etc.

Running back Ethan Fernea, who recently underwent surgery on his right hand-wrist area, returned to practice with a cast over the area. He ran routes and caught a pass during the portion of practice open to the media, but his availability remains unknown. … The Bruins unleashed a grunge-themed song play list ahead of their trip to Seattle, blasting Nirvana’s “Teen Spirit,” Pearl Jam’s “Even Flow” and the Foo Fighters’ “My Hero” early in practice. … UCLA’s game against Oregon on Oct. 23 at the Rose Bowl will start at 12:30 p.m. and will be televised by either ABC or ESPN.

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