Chip Kelly remained unsure on the status of this weekend’s UCLA football spring game before Tuesday morning’s practice.
“We’re hopeful,” the coach said. “I’ve always wanted to play a game, but we won’t be able to determine that until after (practice on) Thursday.”
The reason for uncertainty revolves around the Bruins’ lack of depth at a handful of positions due to health concerns. Because a true spring game would involve an intrasquad contest, UCLA would need enough healthy bodies to put out two separate teams.
Kelly is still undecided on what the format of the game will look like, but said he will not consider playing the same player on both teams.
“For us to talk about a format right now doesn’t really mean anything to us because we don’t know how many players we have available until we get to Thursday,” Kelly said. “And there’s enough time between Thursday and Saturday to get the format down.”
Rising sophomore quarterback Devon Modster is the favorite to start the game regardless of format. He appeared in five games last season for the Bruins, completing 64.6 percent of his passes for four touchdowns and no interceptions.
Kelly said Modster’s high football IQ and ability to remain composed have been the most impressive parts of his game this spring.
“He’s a good decision-maker. He doesn’t get flustered,” Kelly said. “He’s a very calm kid, very steady in his approach to the game. He’s intelligent. There’s a lot of good qualities with Devon.”
Graduate transfer quarterback Wilton Speight, who came over from Michigan last week, and incoming freshman quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson are not yet with the team, so Modster has yet to compete with some of the Bruins’ other options under center.
Despite the fact Kelly will wait a couple days before he makes up his mind about the spring game format, rising sophomore linebacker Rahyme Johnson said he’s hoping to play an actual game to see more live reps.
“On Saturdays we get to tackle a little bit but I hope we get to have the game so we can have real football plays,” Johnson said. “See guys actually play football instead of scripts and things like that.”
A pair of defensive backs were back at practice for the Bruins on Tuesday. Rising senior Octavius Spencer returned to school, and rising redshirt junior Will Lockett, who was suspended, was fully cleared to participate.
Defensive lineman Greg Rogers was granted a release and is no longer with UCLA football. Rogers appeared in seven games during his freshman season, recording two tackles for loss and eleven total.
Quarterback Nick Juels also left the team after making the roster as a walk-on before his freshman season.