Chip Kelly wanted to say one word, just one word, regarding his dream offense.
Are you listening?
“I would love to run the wishbone,” Kelly said Monday. “I would love to run the ball every play and never have to throw the football.”
UCLA fans who still hold season tickets, however, don’t need to worry about their coach going all Barry Switzer on them. Kelly made it clear the wishbone wasn’t going to be part of his offense.
But those clamoring for Kelly to go back to his Oregon blur instead of whatever it is he’s been running with the Bruins will be disappointed. Kelly intimated that the blur was outdated and more tailored to his old Ducks teams than his current roster.
“Oregon was a long time ago,” Kelly said. “It’s totally two different operations. Again, another weird view that we’re going to run what we did at Oregon. That was 2012.”
Didn’t Kelly have a lot of success with it, though?
“They had a lot of success with the single wing in the 1930s, too,” said Kelly, who went 46-7 at Oregon thanks largely to an offense that generated 44.7 points per game. “But people, football evolves and things evolve so maybe drop that take, to be honest with you. I never said when I came in here that we were going to run the offense that we were running at Oregon, so I don’t know why that continues to come up as a question.”
Kelly went on to rattle off a list of quarterbacks who made his Oregon offenses successful, including Marcus Mariota, Darron Thomas and Jeremiah Masoli, while noting the tweaks he made to fit each player’s strengths. It’s not something he’s trying to replicate with the Bruins despite their struggles in his pro-style formation that runs at just a fraction of the blur’s speed.
“I don’t look back at our Oregon offense and study that tape and say, ‘Hey, we should do that here,’” said Kelly, who has won three of his first 15 games at UCLA. “I think we’re always trying to figure out what our guys here do well and try to accentuate that and again, it’s consistency, because we have done it well. It’s a consistency thing, not a, ‘Hey, let’s go find another offense.’”
Some might say UCLA’s offense has been consistently bad, scoring just 14 points in each of its first three games. The Bruins’ scoring ranks No. 127 out of 130 Football Bowl Subdivision teams, and its 263.3 yards of offense per game rank No. 129.
Concepts drawn from the blur persist in college football, including the Pac-12 Conference, even as Kelly has moved on.
“People have borrowed some elements of his offense,” Washington State coach Mike Leach said, “and it’s benefited them.”
Kelly said he still is getting a feel for what his players are best suited to do three games into his second season. UCLA’s roster features 63 freshmen and a handful of other newcomers such as receiver Jaylen Erwin, a junior college transfer. Of course, that’s just part of the reason why Kelly’s team has had trouble moving the ball.
“The real thing I think we need to strive for is I think consistency,” Kelly said, “because we’ve proven at times in every game that we can move the ball down the field, but then there are times when we shoot ourselves in the foot. Those are the things that we have to correct.”
Lucier-South is back
Linebacker Keisean Lucier-South traded in the sun hat and play list he had brought with him to practice every day for a jersey and helmet.
He practiced with teammates for the first time since early spring after sitting out the first three games because of an academic suspension. Kelly said it was unclear whether Lucier-South might be able to play against Washington State on Saturday, noting that his return depends on a variety of factors, including conditioning.
“We’ll continue to monitor him,” Kelly said, “and see where he is as the week goes on.”
Lucier-South is the team’s top returning pass rusher, his four sacks last season equaling the number UCLA has collected in its first three games.
Erwin and linebacker Krys Barnes practiced Monday, two days after suffering injuries against Oklahoma. Erwin had a wrap on his upper left arm and Barnes wore a brace on his right knee. … UCLA’s game at Arizona on Sept. 28 will kick off at 7:30 p.m. on ESPN.