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UCLA football works through short week ahead of Washington matchup

UCLA football players warm up before a game. The Bruins are preparing to take on No. 15 Washington on Friday coming off a short week. (Christine Kao/Daily Bruin staff)

By Gavin Carlson

Sept. 27, 2022 9:15 p.m.

The Bruins have a short week to prepare for their toughest matchup thus far this season.

After a 45-17 blowout win on the road Saturday against Colorado to improve to 4-0 on the season, UCLA football had an atypical Sunday night practice to begin preparing for its Friday night matchup against No. 15 Washington.

“We’re just treating every day like a day earlier,” said redshirt senior defensive lineman Jacob Sykes after the Sunday night practice. “Today (Sunday) is Monday for us, getting our install in. … We’ll treat Thursday like it’s a Friday and just go from there.”

The Bruins haven’t played a Friday night game since the 2018 season and haven’t had just five days to prepare for an opponent since Nov. 2020. In that season, the blue and gold followed a Sunday morning home game against California with a Saturday matchup at then-No. 11 Oregon, when the team lost by just three points despite the absence of quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson because of COVID-19.

The now-redshirt senior signal-caller will be available for this season’s ranked matchup coming off a short week and is in the midst of his best start to a season in his lengthy career in Westwood.

Though competition has been light – UCLA has been at least a two-touchdown favorite in all of its previous four games this season – Thompson-Robinson is completing 74.8% of his passes, has thrown eight touchdowns versus just one interception, and has a passer rating of 167.9. All of these numbers are significantly better than his career 60.8% completion rate and 2.3-to-1 touchdown-to-interception ratio – and his highest passing rating in a previous season is 156.3.

When asked about the most challenging part of the shortened week, Thompson-Robinson didn’t say it was game planning for the Huskies’ defense but rather focusing on himself.

“The recovery process,” Thompson-Robinson said. “You lose a day, so making sure I’m staying real on top of things when it comes to recovering. … Just making sure I’m staying up on my body and making sure I’m staying healthy.”

Thompson-Robinson missed a majority of UCLA’s second win against Alabama State and left the game early on Saturday in Boulder. While the reasons for those exits were unclear, the same can’t be said for several injured Bruins who now have less time than normal to return to full health.

Senior offensive lineman Jon Gaines II and sophomore defensive lineman Jay Toia were both injured against Colorado, and redshirt junior linebacker Kain Medrano and junior defensive lineman Gary Smith III are working themselves back from injuries sustained earlier in the season.

Coach Chip Kelly said Tuesday morning that Medrano and Gaines were good to practice but provided minimal updates on Toia and Smith.

All four players were listed on UCLA’s depth chart released Monday for Friday’s game.

The statuses of Toia and Smith are increasingly important following the season-ending injury of starting defensive lineman and redshirt senior Martin Andrus Jr. earlier in the season. The defensive line will be tasked with helping to slow down a Washington offense that ranks fifth in total yards per game with 530.8 and is led by the nation’s leading passer in quarterback Michael Penix Jr.

Kelly highlighted the challenges the Huskies’ passing game presents and said limiting Penix will be key on Friday night.

“Their quarterback has thrown for more yards than anybody in the country. They’ve got three outstanding receivers. It’s a really good scheme,” Kelly said. “Our ability to disrupt their passing game and keep them off track, that’s going to be the challenge.”

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Gavin Carlson | Sports staff
Carlson is currently a staff writer on the football, men's basketball and women's basketball beats. He was previously a reporter on the softball and men's golf beats.
Carlson is currently a staff writer on the football, men's basketball and women's basketball beats. He was previously a reporter on the softball and men's golf beats.
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