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UCLA football looks to achieve season goals despite loss to No. 8 Oregon

UCLA football players run on the field at Autzen Stadium. (Megan Cai/Assistant Photo editor)

By Francis Moon

Oct. 25, 2022 3:27 p.m.

This post was updated Oct. 27 at 11:24 p.m.

Though the Bruins took their first loss in almost a year over the weekend, it wasn’t anything new for Dorian Thompson-Robinson.

“I don’t think you can ever forget the feeling of losing,” said the redshirt senior quarterback. “That loss on Saturday definitely had some deja vu of some stuff from previous years.”

No. 12 UCLA football sustained not only its first loss of the season Saturday against No. 8 Oregon but its first in 357 days. The Bruins’ last defeat came on the road against Utah on Oct. 30, 2021, one week after they fell at home to the Ducks.

But the blue and gold finished its 2021 campaign with three straight victories, and after a bowl game appearance that wasn’t, it rattled off six more in a row to start the season this year. Entering Saturday’s contest, UCLA possessed the second-longest active winning streak in college football behind only No. 5 Clemson’s now 14-game run.

However, with the opportunity to continue its winning ways with a third consecutive upset, the blue and gold failed to deliver in Eugene. It was unable to break an 18-year losing streak in Autzen Stadium and potentially won’t have another chance in the near future after its impending move to the Big Ten.

For newcomers like redshirt senior wide receiver Jake Bobo, the loss was the first of their UCLA careers. The Duke transfer said the locker room took it hard but is aiming to move past it quickly and rebound in an otherwise successful season thus far.

“Losing is never fun, especially with this team,” Bobo said. “Locker room after the game wasn’t a good time. I wouldn’t be jealous if you weren’t in there. But coach (Chip Kelly) harps on it every day, even when we were winning. On to the next thing.”

In the case of Thompson-Robinson and Kelly, who both joined the program in 2018, recovering from adversity and defeat has become a theme during their tenure together.

After struggling to a 10-21 record through the coach’s first three years, the Bruins pulled off their first winning season since 2015 last year but still occasionally fell victim to their own mistakes and inconsistency during Thompson-Robinson’s fourth year as a starter.

In somewhat of a make-or-break year for the quarterback-coach tandem, both have met, if not exceeded, expectations. Despite the team having clear areas it can improve on, Thompson-Robinson said he is focused on ensuring the Bruins don’t crumble in the face of adversity, adding that the atmosphere at their first practice back Monday morning was as energetic as it has been all season.

“The juice and energy out here was amazing,” Thompson-Robinson said. “That starts with the leaders and guys getting in the locker room early and making sure guys are ready to go this morning.”

While UCLA was unable to keep up against Oregon, it’s difficult to put too much blame on the offense. Senior running back Zach Charbonnet looked like his usual self with 179 scrimmage yards, while Bobo continued to establish himself as the top receiving option for Thompson-Robinson.

But Kelly said game results, whether positive or negative, don’t change his preparation plans, as there are always ways for the team to get better.

“You can win games, but there’s still a lot of mistakes that have to be corrected,” Kelly said. “You could lose games when you played really, really well, but there’s one or two things that have to be corrected, so that’s really what the process is about.”

But no loss is a good loss in college football, and Thompson-Robinson said the team will use the missed opportunity as further motivation for achieving its lofty goals.

“We have way bigger goals than that (the Pac-12 Championship),” Thompson-Robinson said. “We can still accomplish those if we do our jobs on a weekly basis.”

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Francis Moon | Sports senior staff
Moon is currently a Sports senior staff writer. He was previously an assistant Sports editor on the women's basketball, men's soccer, track and field and cross country beats and a contributor on the women's basketball and women's tennis beats, while also contributing for Arts. He is a fourth-year molecular, cell and developmental biology student.
Moon is currently a Sports senior staff writer. He was previously an assistant Sports editor on the women's basketball, men's soccer, track and field and cross country beats and a contributor on the women's basketball and women's tennis beats, while also contributing for Arts. He is a fourth-year molecular, cell and developmental biology student.
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