Everything Chip Kelly said after UCLA's 40-32 win over No. 15 Washington
UCLA ran its win streak to eight games on Friday night with what was at times a shocking dismantling of the No. 15 team in the country, Washington. UCLA quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson was surgical, cutting through the Husky defense time and time again, be it with his arm as he made his way through progressions, or his legs as he jumped over and juked around would-be tacklers.
The Bruins led 33-10 at one point, and closed things out with a well-executed four-minute offense drive from Thompson-Robinson to secure a 40-32 win and move to 5-0 on the season. After the game, coach Chip Kelly met with reporters to break things down.
Here’s everything he said, with video of the full press conference at the bottom.
“Our guys really competed, I thought our defense did a great job. You know, [Michael] Penix led the nation in passing coming into this game. For our guys to get us that lead when we needed every inch of it, to put [Washington] behind on the scoreboard so it turned into a big throw game for them in the second half was huge. I thought our guys did a great job in coverage, and we know how explosive their offense can be, to get them to turn it over twice in the first half was really big for us on the defensive side of the ball. It was important for us to not to turn it over at all – when you’re playing in conference games, if you win the turnover battle, you have a shot.”
On Dorian Thompson-Robinson
“I just thought he was clutch. We have total confidence in everything that Dorian does, I think he has a great grasp on what we’re trying to do. You look at the last play, it’s third-and-6 and we call a passing play, he put the ball exactly where it needed to be and converted the first down. That’s the confidence we have in him as a quarterback.”
On the significance of this game
“We were excited. Any time you get to play a conference game against a really good Washington team – you watch what they did against Michigan State and Stanford – we knew we were going to get everything they had. They’re a really well-coached team, they’ve got a lot of skill on that team, and I think their quarterback has been a difference-maker for them. We were excited to get one in the books on Friday.”
On the offense
“I thought Kam Brown really contributed. I think we’re getting great production from our outside receivers. For the last couple of years, we had a lot of talent with our inside receivers – Greg Dulcich, Kyle Philips, both of those guys have gone on to the NFL so you know how talented those guys are. But for our outside receivers, for Jake [Bobo] and Kam [Brown] to step up like they did today and become a matchup problem, that was big for us. We can get the ball distributed to the perimeter, and if you have to cover the perimeter it opens up some holes for Zach [Charbonnet] in the middle of the field. I thought Zach carried the load like he’s done in a lot of games.”
On the defense
“I was really proud of them, especially in the first half. I thought their energy and how they were playing, the different looks they were doing to disguise and the ability to get two turnovers in the first half against this team … because this team had been clicking on all cylinders in the first four games. If you watched them on tape you could tell this was a really impressive football team. So for us to kind of hold them at bay a little bit, I think was the difference really – how our defense played in the first half.”
On the Blaylock interception and paying it off with a touchdown
“We talk about responding all the time, so when we get a turnover, if our offense doesn’t do anything with the turnover, then it really doesn’t count. So when you have a turnover, we have to respond on the offensive side of the ball. So if our defense can create turnovers, then we have to respond on the offensive side of the ball and turn it into points, and I thought that’s what they did in that situation.”
On getting a good crowd
“I think it’s really important. It was good that we got the kids back on campus. It’s a little bit different. I was talking to Kalen (DeBoer) about it. Washington’s a quarter school also. But to get our kids back on campus and for them to come up. For the first time, they’re back, and we’ve got to play a Friday night game in L.A. traffic. I saw three accidents on the way to the game … For the people that came out, especially at 7:30 at night on a Friday night, to come and see a team that I think is fun to watch, hopefully we continue to grow on that. We’ve got a huge game next week against Utah at home here on Saturday, and hopefully we’ll continue to get more on that.”
On the team’s maturity
“This game is a race to maturity, and I think you’re going to get tested. But competitors respond to those situations, whether it be momentum swings, adversity, or just random events that happen in a game. But it’s about playing the next snap, not being down, and having a little bit of resolve, and I think our kids continued to build that as they got going. There’s a resiliency to this group. They’ve been through a lot. We’ve been fortunate to be on the pretty good end of the score the last couple of games. Each week they get a little bit better, and each week has new challenges depending on who you play. We got about a day to enjoy it, and then we have the defending Pac-12 champions coming in here in Utah, so that will get your eyes up getting ready for that one.”
On the offense closing the game out
“Yeah, and we work on it every week. It’s four-minute offense, and that’s what great teams have to do. You have to be able to seal the win and not put it in somebody else’s hands. If we get a chance and we get the ball back, we know exactly what we have to do timing-wise. We know how many timeouts they have, how many first downs we need to gather in that situation and we were cognizant of that. I think everybody on our offense was cognizant of that.
“To watch what happened, how it played itself out, I thought Dorian made some really good plays in the run game. They were collapsing a lot on Zach — which I would too — but then to finish it off with the pass he threw to Hut was awesome. A lot of people think, ‘Well, if you run it, we’re just gonna run the clock.’ We weren’t trying to run clock, we were trying to win the game. You put the ball in your best players’ hands and (Thompson-Robinson) came up big for us tonight. That’s something we can learn from as we work on four-minute offense, and if you get to work on four-minute offense every week, that’s pretty good because it means you’re winning.”
On Thompson-Robinsons’ maturation
“He has played in a lot of really big football games for us. I go back to his freshman year. His first start was at Oklahoma playing in front of 93,000. The one thing about him is he doesn’t get fazed, doesn’t get rattled. He’s as tough as they come, he takes hits, and he gets up and he continues to play. He is a competitor, so it was really cool to see the game end the way it ended. He had three options on the play went to one right away and ripped it on time. It was really a microcosm of how we feel about him, and we’re going to put the ball in his hands with the game on the line.”
On how his teammates respond to him
“They all fester off each other. The great thing about this team is I think it’s really selfless. We use the word mudita a lot — ‘I vicariously derive joy from other people’s success’ — and I think our players really enjoy that. Whether it was a pick by JonJon (Vaughns) or a pick by (Stephan) Blaylock. You look at this team they had a bunch of energy a bunch of juice tonight.”
on being assertive and going for it on 4th downs
“That’s just analytics. We know when we’re going to go for it and we know when we’re not going to go for it. It’s not a feel thing. You try to take the emotion out of those decisions. Those decisions are made during the week so we kind of have an algorithm of what we are going to do depending on where the ball is and what the distance is. So when it comes time to do it no one is surprised. The numbers will tell you when you should and when you shouldn’t, and we just follow that.”