The PAC-12 conference seems to have an early front runner for a potential College Playoff spot every year. And every year, the conference eats itself as the season progresses, ushering their best contenders out of the college football playoff race.
However, this year feels different following the UCLA Bruins’ dismantling of the LSU Tigers.
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It lacks the hollow luster of a Stanford Cardinal team dying to lose to the Washington Huskies in November. The Bruins do not carry themselves like a hot USC Trojans squad racing to a letdown against Utah or the Oregon Ducks.
UCLA feels ready for a deep run and a College Football Playoff spot, and it is all because of what Chip Kelly is back to doing with his team.
Chip is back to his Duck days
When Kelly was stunning college football and tucking the PAC-12 into the grave game after game, it was because of two massive coaching techniques.
The hallmark of his offense was the incredible pace. Kelly played at a neck-breaking pace, kicking his team into high gear. Seemingly always in the two-minute drill, Kelly’s new way of playcalling powered the blur.
Kelly took the spread offense and threw more gas into the fire. The Oregon offense would wear out opponents by calling in multiple plays at a time, spreading the offense out, and running the ball in heavy doses.
Because the Ducks always rushed to snap the ball within 10-12 seconds, there were never any chances for the defense to substitute. Oregon’s offense would literally run teams off the field.
The other key factor? Kelly’s Oregon squads constantly took the short play now to kill you with the long one later.
The running plays, the screens, the quarterback getting outside the pocket; it was all to persuade a team to commit to the short pass before killing them with the long ball.
Verticals off of screens and deep seams would open up as defenders tried to cheat against the run and fell flat-footed in their back-pedal. After all, they were running a track meet.
With both factors are back in Chip’s offense, the Bruins look like a real contender. With each drive, UCLA seems to check another box in the Chip Kelly experience.
Old Oregon = New Bruins
UCLA ranked 12th in rushing yards per game last season. This year, the Bruins average over 220 yards on the ground thus far. The Cali squad already ran in six of the team’s nation-leading 11 touchdowns, keeping the ball on dirt to score.
So, in classic Kelly fashion, his squad is pounding the rock before lighting up the secondary.
That passing attack is powered by chunk plays. The Bruins average nearly 11 passing yards per attempt and have already recorded five passes of over 30 yards.
Not to mention, their offensive pace is as fast as ever. With 128 plays in only two games, the Bruins have the third most offensive plays in college football this year.
Building success in a program is more than getting in your staff or drawing your own recruits. It is building your philosophies and ideas into the fabric of the team.
It seems that Kelly has instilled his X’s and O’s approach into the UCLA program. As the Bruins truly become HIS team, he can now make a proper run at the conference and maybe the College Football Playoff.