UCLA football prepares defense, heals up players during bye week
Freshman Carl Jones played safety for UCLA football in the first few games of the season, but he recently made the switch to linebacker. Jones recorded 10 tackles across the first four games but has yet to pick up another tackle in the two games since. (Joe Akira/Daily Bruin staff)
By Jason Maikis
Oct. 9, 2019 1:26 a.m.
The Bruins are getting a break from Pac-12 play.
UCLA football (1-5, 1-2 Pac-12) is entering its first bye week halfway through the 12-game regular season. After losing 48-31 to Oregon State (2-3, 1-1 Pac-12) on Saturday, UCLA will have 11 days to prepare for its upcoming contest against Stanford (3-3, 2-2 Pac-12) on Oct. 17.
The Cardinal will also be coming off a bye week when they play the Bruins, having defeated No. 15 Washington 23-13 in their last contest.
After UCLA’s first bye week last season coming after only three games, coach Chip Kelly said the timing of this year’s bye will be more helpful in getting UCLA healthy.
“You hope the week off is a chance to heal some of those guys up,” Kelly said. “Those guys that don’t have long-term injuries, the kids that’re (out) a week. It’s at a good time – the halfway point in our season – and we get the opportunity to play the second half of the season with a little bit of a break in there.”
The Bruins will go into the bye week with defense as one of their other main focuses, Kelly said. UCLA has allowed an average of 36.7 points per game after giving up 48 points to Oregon State on Saturday, due in large part to Beaver wide receiver Isaiah Hodgins’ three scores and 123 yards.
Freshman safety-turned-linebacker Carl Jones said the defense is no longer worried about what happened before the bye week. Instead, he said it’s focused on improving the way it comes out of the gate after the days off.
“The mentality on the defensive side is that we have to make more plays,” Jones said. “I know last game we went down early, so we have to make plays faster, sooner and start earlier than the second quarter (against Oregon State).”
Kelly said some of the problems on defense are due to the injuries the team has dealt with – a majority of which are on the line.
“Some of the issues fundamentally on defense is that we’ve had a lot of interchangeable parts,” Kelly said. “We’ve mixed and matched on the defensive line right now, didn’t have (sophomore defensive lineman Elijah Wade) available to us, and lost (junior defensive lineman Martin Andrus Jr.) in a pregame warmup. So, trying to get a consistent rotation with the same guys that you’re continuing to practice with, (those) are the guys you need to get out there on the field.”
During Tuesday’s practice, Wade and junior defensive back Mo Osling III went through pre-practice warmups with the team but didn’t participate in the no-pads drills with the team. Senior linebacker Krys Barnes and Andrus both weren’t at practice after suffering injuries versus Oregon State.
On the offensive side, senior wide receiver Theo Howard and sophomore running back Martell Irby also didn’t go through drills with the team, but sophomore quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson was a full participant coming off his absence against Oregon State.
Redshirt freshman wide receiver Kyle Philips said he was impressed with Thompson-Robinson’s practice Tuesday, but also said redshirt sophomore quarterback Austin Burton stepped up and led the offense without a hitch in the starter’s absence.
“(Thompson-Robinson) looks like he never left,” Philips said. “The coaches did a great job rehabbing him and while they were rehabbing (they kept) his motion good, and when he comes back he’ll be good as new. But when (Thompson-Robinson) went down (Burton) stepped right up and nothing changed in the offense.”
UCLA will travel to Stanford on Oct. 17, where it will attempt to get its Pac-12 record back to .500.