Former Bruins QB Devon Modster struggles in relief for Cal

Cal backup QB Devon Modster attempts a pass against Arizona State on Friday night.
(Ben Margot / Associated Press)

UCLA fans wondering what might have been had Devon Modster remained a Bruin were no longer wondering Friday night.

They got an extended look at what Modster could do deep into his college career.

The former Bruins backup who transferred to California last season came trotting onto the field in Berkeley after Golden Bears starter Chase Garbers suffered an apparent shoulder injury shortly before halftime.

It didn’t go well. At all.

Modster completed only five of 14 passes for 23 yards with an interception during Cal’s first loss of the season, a 24-17 setback against Arizona State. The Golden Bears were so bad on offense that they managed just 11 yards over their final four drives.

“I think I played terrible,” Modster, a redshirt junior, told reporters after his longest completion went for six yards. “It doesn’t hurt my confidence. I know what I’m capable of, so I’ll get it right this week and prepare for Oregon.”


Some UCLA fans had been clamoring for Modster to play early last season after Wilton Speight went down with a back injury and Dorian Thompson-Robinson struggled mightily against Fresno State in the final nonconference game. Modster never got the chance to build upon the promise he had shown as a redshirt freshman in 2017, when he led the Bruins on a game-winning drive against Cal and completed 64.6% of his passes for 671 yards and four touchdowns with no interceptions.

Did UCLA alter the trajectory of its season with a gritty comeback against Washington State? The Bruins will find out Saturday night against Arizona.

Modster saw the field for only one play under coach Chip Kelly, handing the ball off against Oklahoma after Thompson-Robinson’s helmet came off and he was briefly forced to the sideline by rule.

Two weeks later, Modster announced he was leaving, headed for Cal after a few months at Palomar College.

He’ll return to the Rose Bowl on Nov. 30, when the Golden Bears play the Bruins.

Fast times

Kyle Philips wasn’t named by several teammates this summer when they compiled their lists of the fastest players on the team, but the receiver now has all the proof he needs to be considered a speed demon.

Philips was clocked at 21 mph last weekend during UCLA’s comeback victory over Washington State, according to a tweet by Josh Rebholz, the Bruins’ senior associate athletic director for external relations. Other players who hit the 20-mph barrier were Thompson-Robinson; running backs Demetric Felton Jr. and Joshua Kelley, cornerback Darnay Holmes and 272-pound defensive lineman Elijah Wade.

Atonio Mafi, the 360-pound defensive lineman who likes to joke that he can run the 40-yard dash in 4.1 seconds, was wondering why he wasn’t listed.

“I think they missed mine,” Mafi tweeted. “I was probably [too] fast to be clocked.”


UCLA played without receiver Theo Howard, running back Martell Irby, defensive lineman Martin Andrus Jr. and safeties Quentin Lake and Mo Osling III because of unspecified injuries. … The Bruins played a fifth consecutive game without running back Kazmeir Allen (academics), guard Michael Alves (back) and linebackers Tyree Thompson (foot) and Bo Calvert (NCAA suspension).