UCLA vs. Utah: How they match up
UCLA (0-1) vs. Utah (0-0)
Saturday, 7:30 p.m., Rose Bowl. TV: Fox. Radio: 570.
Utah vs. COVID-19. The Utes remained on the precipice of not playing again this week after their season opener was canceled because of a roster ravaged by the novel coronavirus. Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said positive tests among some players and the resulting quarantine of others had decimated two position groups and left the team below the minimum threshold of 53 available scholarship players needed to play its opener. It remained unknown how many players who were out last week would be available to return against the Bruins.
UCLA (478 ypg/42 ppg): The numbers looked good for the Bruins in their opener against Colorado, but the eye test revealed that something was missing. Quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson accounted for two of UCLA’s four first-half turnovers, forcing the team into comeback mode. Tight end Greg Dulcich showed that he could be a season-long weapon after piling up a career-high 126 receiving yards.
Beefed-up UCLA tight end Greg Dulcich doesn’t consider his journey with the Bruins to be a Cinderella story because he always believed in himself.
Utah (429 ypg/32.3 ppg in 2019): The Utes made running back Devin Brumfield, wide receiver Solomon Enis and tight end Cole Fotheringham available to the media earlier this week, presumably meaning they are available to play. Graduate transfer quarterback Jake Bentley could make his debut with the Utes after starting 33 games at South Carolina.
UCLA (525 ypg/48 ppg): The Bruins flashed some early potential with their new 4-2-5 defense, stopping Colorado after only one first down on the Buffaloes’ opening drive. The floodgates opened from there, partially as a result of UCLA’s four turnovers and the defense being on the field for 39½ minutes. One positive for the Bruins was that they generated eight tackles for loss.
Third-year coach Chip Kelly has compiled a 7-18 record through the opening week of his third season, meaning that each win has cost UCLA roughly $1.59 million.
Utah (269.2 ypg/31.8 ppg in 2019): This unit was a big unknown even before the virus left the Utes with scout-team players having to take over starting roles this week. Utah returned only two starters in defensive end Mika Tafua and linebacker Devin Lloyd, but their availability for the game against UCLA remained unclear.
UCLA played a nearly flawless opener on special teams, blocking two field goals and making all of its kicks. Luke Akers averaged 47.7 yards on his three punts.
Figuring out whether UCLA is going to win under coach Chip Kelly is often as easy as tracking the turnovers. The Bruins are plus-11 in turnovers in their victories under Kelly as opposed to minus-22 in their losses.
UCLA defensive end and linebacker Myles Jackson announced on Instagram this week that he would have to miss the rest of the season after suffering a knee injury. Kelly said receiver Kyle Philips and defensive back Obi Eboh had returned to practice this week after getting hurt against Colorado.
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