Chip Kelly keeps information limited in first camp at UCLA
LOS ANGELES (AP) — The waiting game at UCLA will continue.
New head coach Chip Kelly said any decisions about personnel, including who will be the starting quarterback for the season opener against Cincinnati on Sept. 1, will not be made until after the Bruins conclude training camp Saturday.
“We’ll go through the weekend,” Kelly said. “Then we’ll sit down as a staff on Sunday and go through everybody. We haven’t talked about anybody here, there or anywhere at any position right now, so we’re just getting reps and trying to get better.”
Kelly has kept detailed information about the offensive scheme he will run and which players will operate it tightly controlled, even using the same quarterback groupings throughout training camp during the brief portion of practice open to reporters.
Redshirt sophomore Devon Modster, the only quarterback on the roster who has started a game at UCLA, is part of a different three-man group than Michigan graduate transfer Wilton Speight and freshman Dorian Thompson-Robinson, making it impossible to glean any insight into whether a hierarchy has emerged among the three likeliest contenders.
Even getting Kelly to acknowledge if he would like to have a starting quarterback decided by early next week was met with a flip response.
“We’re just hoping to make sure we all show up to play Cincinnati,” Kelly said.
Whether Kelly’s secrecy with the Oregon Ducks was a factor in their success during his four seasons in charge there is not clear. But there is no disputing Kelly’s sterling record of 46-7, including a 33-3 mark in conference games, four appearances in BCS bowls and three conference titles in that span.
UCLA hired Kelly in November hoping to duplicate those results, but he has gone out of his way to avoid declarations about how close the Bruins might be to achieving them. Kelly said his main takeaway from three weeks of training camp was “how hard” his team works, providing no insight as to how they are performing on the football field.
“I think they have got a great work ethic, and it’s a lot of fun to coach this group,” Kelly said. “They are excited. They come with a good attitude every single day in their approach in terms of what they do. They are really good learners. I think there’s a lot of guys when you watch make a mistake day two, you don’t see it in day three, so it’s been a fun process to watch them develop from since we started beginning of August to where we are now. The development part has been interesting to watch and to mark. You see the young players starting to kind of step up and figure out, ‘I do fit in and I do have a role here,’ so it’s been encouraging.”
Kelly’s caution even extended to his initial breakdown of the Bearcats, limiting his observations to expecting improvement in their second season under head coach Luke Fickell and Cincinnati’s own dedication to hard work.
“Took over a year ago, so now they’re in year two,” Kelly said. “We’re going through it. You’re putting in new systems offensively, defensively and special teams. I think they probably have a second year in his system in all three phases, so we expect them to be really well coached. When you watch film they play extremely hard, they play with great effort, so you got to be prepared for that. And that’s kind of a typical thing with Cincinnati. They have always kind of prided themselves on that, so our guys are excited to play but they know it’s going to be a big challenge.”
NOTES: Running back Soso Jamabo did not practice Friday because of an undisclosed injury.