The Bruins got caught looking too far ahead.
But UCLA football (4-6, 4-3 Pac-12) coach Chip Kelly said he has confidence in his group and that he thought Saturday’s 49-3 loss to Utah was a humbling experience for a young roster that got excited about the potential prospect of a Pac-12 South title – one that is no longer in reach.
“I think they’re young kids and I think a lot of people do it in life,” Kelly said prior to Monday’s practice. “You start to try to see a little bit farther down the road than (that day). Hopefully, you learn a lesson from it, that you’ve got to be where your feet are and that’s something that we all learn from all of our trials and tribulations, that it’s important that you stay in the present.”
Kelly also emphasized that his team had a strong week of practice before the game, something that hadn’t happened in the weeks leading up to some of the Bruins’ previous losses this season.
While Kelly frequently stresses the importance of good practice, he admitted there are times in which the opposing team comes in just as prepared, if not more so, and this past weekend was a good example of that.
“You could have the best week of practice and if the other team has the best week of practice, then it’s a matchup between two teams that have really good weeks of practices,” Kelly said. “I think you’ve got to look at it from that standpoint, give Utah credit.”
The loss to Utah ended UCLA’s quest for the Pac-12 South crown, but the team can still become bowl eligible if it wins in each of its final two contests.
Redshirt senior running back Joshua Kelley – who rushed for 78 yards on 19 carries in Saturday’s loss – said he is already focused on this week’s matchup with USC, and added the team’s upcoming rivalry game should help provide a much-needed boost after the pivotal loss in Salt Lake City.
“Sometimes things go according to plan and sometimes things don’t,” Kelley said. “We have a rivalry game this week that’s going to get us fired up and amped up a little bit. Some games you get punched in the mouth like that, but you’ve got to respond.”
Senior linebacker Krys Barnes said he is also looking forward to getting back on the field because he felt as though he underperformed against the Utes. He said that while he knows he needs to be better with his communication and leadership, he also wants to focus on making the most of his final two collegiate appearances.
“These next two games, I want to make sure I end my senior season the way I want to end it,” Barnes said. “Go out there, have fun with my guys, lead them the way I’ve got to lead and just enjoy every day.”