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BREAKING:

SJP and UC Divest Coalition Demonstrations at UCLA

With depleted roster, UCLA football readies to face Boise State in LA Bowl

Redshirt senior linebacker Darius Muasau points toward the offensive line during UCLA football’s game against Colorado. (Myka Fromm/Assistant Photo editor)

Football


Boise State
Saturday, 4:30 p.m.

SoFi Stadium
ABC

By Grace Whitaker

Dec. 15, 2023 11:45 a.m.

The team set to march onto the field Saturday will look much different than the one that’s preceded it this year.

Amid a purge of eight players to the transfer portal – and the loss of three coaches – the Bruins will put together what pieces remain as they close the 2023 campaign.

UCLA football (7-5, 4-5 Pac-12) will compete in SoFi Stadium in the LA Bowl against Boise State (8-5, 6-2 Mountain West) with the chance to claim the first bowl game victory in the coach Chip Kelly era.

Redshirt senior offensive lineman Duke Clemens said the team’s goals are simple.

“The whole thing is just to finish with the win. We couldn’t get that in our last Pac-12 game,” Clemens said. “So the big emphasis this week is just finish strong; do what we’ve been doing all year.”

UCLA’s coaching turnover is headlined by the departure of defensive coordinator D’Anton Lynn – who transformed UCLA into the No. 11 total defense in the country – who left for the same position at USC.

Kelly said in the absence of Lynn, the coaching staff won’t skip a beat in coming together to present a game plan.

“Our entire defense will put together the game plan, like we normally do,” Kelly said. “It’s the same way with us on offense, I call the plays on game day, but our coaching staff has a huge input on that. … We’re not one person coming in and saying, ‘Hey, we’re doing this.’”

The two programs haven’t faced off since 1999, when now-associate head coach DeShaun Foster was a sophomore running back for the Bruins. The coach now also leads the running back room for UCLA.

“I think I scored a touchdown also, but Boise was a good team back then too. So, it was always a good program,” Foster said. “They always have blue collar guys. People that play hard, so I remember we didn’t take that game lightly.”

This year’s Boise State program – which won the Mountain West championship – boasts a similar situation as UCLA heading into the bowl game. Its starting quarterback, Taylen Green, entered the portal and accepted an offer from Arkansas. The Broncos will instead look to freshman CJ Tiller to lead the team.

On UCLA’s side, Kelly confirmed that in addition to the players in the portal, senior defensive lineman Laiatu Latu will not compete Saturday. Latu has been honored with the Lombardi Award and Ted Hendricks Award for his standout defensive performance this campaign.

Scrounging together what remains of his roster and coaching room, Kelly will have the opportunity to accomplish the feats of achieving eight wins or more for three consecutive seasons for just the third time since 1988 and his first bowl game win in his six-year tenure at UCLA.

Redshirt senior linebacker Darius Muasau, who has exhausted his collegiate eligibility, said he’s looking forward to ending his time in college football the right way.

“It’s a very bittersweet feeling reaching the end of my college career, but you know, there’s no other place I’d rather do it and no other team I’d rather do it than with my boys,” Muasau said.

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Grace Whitaker | Sports senior staff
Whitaker is currently a senior staff writer on the football, men's basketball and women's basketball beats. She was previously an assistant Sports editor on the women's basketball, women's soccer, beach volleyball and cross country beats and a contributor on the women's basketball and beach volleyball beats.
Whitaker is currently a senior staff writer on the football, men's basketball and women's basketball beats. She was previously an assistant Sports editor on the women's basketball, women's soccer, beach volleyball and cross country beats and a contributor on the women's basketball and beach volleyball beats.
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