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UCLA football hopes to defeat California despite lack of postseason

Sophomore offensive lineman Christaphany Murray (pictured with redshirt junior running back Demetric Felton) has played in every game for UCLA football this season. The Bruins will wrap up their season with Senior Day versus California on Saturday. (Axel Lopez/Daily Bruin senior staff)

Football


California
Saturday, 7:30 p.m.

Rose Bowl
FS1

By Coral Smith

Nov. 29, 2019 4:03 p.m.

The Bruins have a chance to end the season on a high note.

UCLA football (4-7, 4-4 Pac-12) is out of bowl contention for the second season in a row, but coach Chip Kelly said the Bruins are still going into their Senior Day game versus California (6-5, 3-5) with a positive outlook, focusing on how the team has grown over the course of the season rather than their lack of a postseason.

“There are players where you see how they were in game one, and where they are going into the last game, just how they’ve grown as a group,” Kelly said.

Among the senior players who will play in the Rose Bowl for the last time Saturday is redshirt senior running back Joshua Kelley.

Since sitting out the first game of the 2019 season with an injury, Kelley has averaged 98.4 rushing yards per game and needs just 16 more yards against the Golden Bears to hit the 1,000-yard single-season mark.

“That’s something I was aware of, that (Kelley’s) getting close to it, and I’m so happy for him,” said sophomore offensive lineman Christaphany Murray. “I just want the best for him, and he’s worked for it, and he deserves it, so we’re going to try and do that. It’d feel really good to be able to send him off on a good note.”

Kelley and the UCLA offense will have to contend with one of the top linebackers in the country when they face off with California inside linebacker Evan Weaver. Weaver leads the nation in total tackles with 164 – 32 more than the next-best player – and has averaged almost 15 tackles per game.

“(Weaver)’s an instinctive football player, he doesn’t get fooled very much,” Kelly said. “People run play action, and he seems like he’s underneath the route, and then people run the same exact action and hand it off and he’s making the tackle in the backfield … He can run sideline to sideline, he plays every down, he does not come out of the game, so he’s a guy where we need to be aware of where No. 89 is at all times.”

The Bruins have won the last two matchups with the Bears, including last year’s victory in Berkeley that gave UCLA its first win of the season. Kelley rushed for 157 yards and three touchdowns in the game, and the UCLA defense forced five turnovers on the way to a 37-7 win.

Cal started its 2019 campaign with four straight wins, including a 20-19 victory over then-No. 14 Washington. But while the team was ranked as high as No. 15 in the nation, the Bears dropped their next four games to fall back to .500.

Since then, Cal has called its way back into bowl eligibility, most recently winning its rivalry game versus Stanford 24-20 on Nov. 23.

Senior offensive lineman Boss Tagaloa said the final game of the season is not only a chance to celebrate the seniors leaving the team, but also to acknowledge the culmination of the work the younger Bruins have put in over the course of the season.

“The younger guys, it’s just how they approach practice and everything, just how mature they are so young in their careers,” Tagaloa said. “The way they approach everything, you see a bunch of the younger guys are playing and starting now, it’s just a testament to them and how good of players they are … The way young guys like that handle situations like that at such a young age is impressive.”

Kickoff versus California will be 7:30 p.m. on Saturday at the Rose Bowl, with 13 Bruin seniors being honored before the game.

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Coral Smith | Sports senior staff
Smith is currently a Sports senior staff writer on the gymnastics and softball beats. She was previously an assistant Sports editor for the softball, gymnastics, women's volleyball, swim & dive and rowing beats. Smith was previously a staff writer on the softball, women's volleyball, rowing and swim & dive beats.
Smith is currently a Sports senior staff writer on the gymnastics and softball beats. She was previously an assistant Sports editor for the softball, gymnastics, women's volleyball, swim & dive and rowing beats. Smith was previously a staff writer on the softball, women's volleyball, rowing and swim & dive beats.
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