The Bruins have one more opportunity to pick up a win before the halfway point of the season, but coach Chip Kelly is not feeling any added pressure.
“We’re trying to win every single day and every single week, so that’s what our approach is,” Kelly said. “We don’t say, ‘There’s a bigger emphasis this week because we didn’t win last week.’”
UCLA football (0-5, 0-2 Pac-12) will head to California Memorial Stadium – where it has lost eight of its last nine meetings with California (3-2, 0-2) – to take on the Golden Bears on Saturday.
Despite being ranked No. 24 in the nation two weeks ago, Cal is one of just two Pac-12 schools other than UCLA that remains winless in conference play.
The Bears have been running a two-quarterback system consisting of dual-threats Chase Garbers and Brandon McIlwain – neither of whom started the team’s season opener. Cal’s opening-day starter, Ross Bowers, was benched in the team’s first game, and has not played since after starting in all 12 games last season.
McIlwain leads Cal in passing and rushing yards, collecting 545 through the air and another 359 on the ground. The quarterback has accounted for six touchdowns this season.
Garbers has been equally effective in the passing game, completing 65.3 percent of his passes for 493 yards and six touchdowns. He is also third on the team in rushing with 150 yards.
The Bruins have struggled to contain mobile quarterbacks this season, allowing 53.4 rush yards per game and nine touchdowns on the ground to opposing signal-callers.
Kelly said he is expecting to see the Bears let their quarterbacks loose Saturday.
“There’s really the threat of quarterback run with designed quarterback runs where they’re just going to snap the ball to the quarterback and he’s going to take off and run,” Kelly said.
On the other side of the ball, redshirt junior Joshua Kelley will have an opportunity to become the first UCLA running back to post three straight 100-yard rushing performances since Jordon James in 2013.
Although Cal is allowing 155.8 rushing yards per game this year, Kelly said solving the Bears’ defense requires everybody’s attention.
“(The Bears) do a really good job of mixing their packages, so you really have to be cognizant of what they’re in while they’re out there,” Kelly said. “So we’ve got to make sure we’ve got a great understanding of what they’re doing.”
Bruins going back home
Redshirt senior defensive back Adarius Pickett and freshman defensive lineman Atonio Mafi will be close to home when the Bruins travel to the Bay Area this weekend.
Mafi, a former three-star recruit out of San Mateo, California, said he considered both California and UCLA out of high school, but ultimately chose to head to Westwood after current Bruins defensive coordinator Jerry Azzinaro left the Bears to join Kelly’s staff in December.
“I really meshed with Coach (Azzinaro) through recruiting and him coming here – also with like, I wanted to go away from home as well,” Mafi said. “So I thought I couldn’t go wrong with either choice.
Pickett – who grew up about 7.5 miles from Berkeley in Richmond, California, – said he is excited for his friends and family to see him play one last time while at UCLA.
“My parents actually come to most of the home games, if not all of them, but I have a lot of family, a lot of friends coming out to watch me play in the Bay Area,” Pickett said. “The last time in college, it’s going to be special.”
Kickoff on Saturday is scheduled for 4 p.m.