UCLA rolls over Arizona 27-10
December 3, 2020
It has taken UCLA head football coach Chip Kelly a while, but in his third season he finally looks like he may have an explosive offensive unit. A least on the ground. On Saturday night at the Rose Bowl, the UCLA Bruins ran all over the Arizona Wildcats in a convincing 27-10 victory. The Bruins rushed for 281 yards on the ground, the third straight game they have gone over 200 yards rushing.
The Bruins have had an inconsistent running attack in the first two seasons under Kelly. At times, the running attack has been terrific. In three consecutive wins last season, they rushed for 200 yards or more in all three wins. They also struggled at times to run the ball, which was reflected in their 4-8 record last season. They have been consistent this season through four games.
With the victory, the Bruins improved to 2-2 for the season. With the loss, the Wildcats fell to 0-3 for the season. The Bruins are averaging 34.5 points per game, which is second in the Pac-12 behind Oregon. The Bruins are averaging 241.8 rushing yards per game, up from 150 yards per game in 2019. The win avenged a 20-17 loss in the desert last season to Arizona. In this game, Arizona took an early 7-0 lead, but the Bruins responded with twenty unanswered points to take a 20-7 halftime lead.
The Bruins were led on the ground by Demetric Felton, who rushed for a career-high 206 yards and one touchdown. The senior tailback from Temecula leads the Bruins with an average of 134.3 yards per game, which is 7th in the nation. He has had some excellent help in the backfield in Brittain Brown, who rushed for 72 yards on 16 carries and a rushing touchdown and caught two passes for 26 yards and had a receiving touchdown.
The 1-2 rushing punch of Felton and Brown has been highly effective this season. Felton is a converted wide receiver who caught 55 passes last season. He is listed at 5-foot-10, 200 pounds, but he does not look that big. He is quick and elusive and is a threat to break loose for a long run every time he touches the ball. His ability as a receiver out of the backfield makes him a threat in the passing game as well.
Brown is a physical runner with speed. The graduate transfer from Duke brings a more punishing style of running when he is on the field. Brown is listed at 6-foot-1, 210 pounds, although he looks bigger than that. On a two-yard run for a touchdown late in the game, Brown literally ran through three defenders on the way to the end zone.
For the second straight game, Chase Griffin started at quarterback. Dorian Thompson-Robinson missed his second consecutive game because of contact tracing related to COVID-19. The Bruins had 56 rushing attempts and only 20 passing attempts, so Griffin was not asked to do a lot. But he was steady, completing 12 of 20 passes for 129 yards and a 16-yard touchdown pass to Brown in the second quarter.
Kelly was proud of Felton and the performance of the offense, stating: "I was really happy for Felt. He's worked extremely hard since he moved to running back and has really turned himself into a quality back. He's got great vision. I thought our o-line did a really nice job. The unsung group that I don't think gets enough credit is how well our receivers block and tight ends block. It was a team effort. For any back, to have 200 yards is a huge day. We are really happy for Felt."
Brown was asked about sharing the ball with Felton. "It's just good to have a one-two punch with that o-line doing that work and creating the holes for us, and it's just turned out to be a really good thing for our offense."
Defensively, the Bruins are a more athletic, aggressive unit this season. Against the Wildcats, they consistently brought pressure, knocking out the Wildcats starting quarterback, Grant Gunnell, with a shoulder injury on the first play. Backup quarterback Will Plummer was sacked twice and was under constant pressure from the aggressive Bruin defense. The consistent pressure and solid pass coverage forced two 4th quarter interceptions from Plummer.
Coach Kelly was pleased with the defensive effort. "I've got to give credit to our game plan. This defense has been really aggressive and we're getting to the quarterback as you all have seen the past few games, so I've got to give credit to the coaches for developing a sound game plan and to the rest of our defense for executing it."
The Bruins are scheduled to travel to Tempe, Arizona this Saturday, December 5th, to play the Arizona State Sun Devils. Game time is scheduled for 7:30 PM local time and the game will be televised on FS1. The Sun Devils, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, have only played one game this season. That was a 28-27 loss to the USC Trojans, in a game that ASU led 27-14 with three minutes to go.
The Sun Devils return quarterback Jayden Daniels from last season's 8-5 team. ASU beat three ranked teams last season (Michigan State, Cal, and Oregon) and defeated Florida State in the Sun Bowl. The Bruins beat ASU last season in the Rose Bowl, 42-32, behind the running of Joshua Kelly, who racked up 164 yards rushing and four touchdowns in the victory. Kelly was a 4th round draft pick of the Los Angeles Chargers and scored a touchdown on Sunday against the Buffalo Bills.
With two games remaining, the Bruins have a shot at a winning season and with some help, could win the Pac-12 South Division title. They will need to win this weekend and then win next weekend against USC at the Rose Bowl. In this crazy season of college football, a season full of cancellations and schedule changes due to the pandemic, anything is possible.