The media was treated to one of UCLA Bruins head coach Chip Kelly’s first available media sessions this week and he spoke specifically about multiple items in question.
Here’s the transcript on some of the big burning questions.
On the COVID-19 protocols:
Chip Kelly: We are utilizing both fields and a lot of our team sessions we are running two teams simultaneously so that we have, its faced out and we are maximizing the use of the entire facility in terms of that. The other thing we do, when we have any meetings that are larger than position meetings, we meet outside. Actually, some of our position groups are held outside. We don’t have any team meetings, all of our team meetings are held outside. So anytime we have a group, I think our biggest position group is 20, so any meeting group over 20 is an outside meeting. Obviously, because I think it is better from a COVID standpoint to, the bigger the numbers get you’d rather be outside than inside.
On whether or not there are any limitations:
Kelly: Just your normal camp rules. The first two days were just helmets. The next two days were helmets and shoulder pads. And then as we get to Day 5 tomorrow, we can have lowers, lower pads on. We are also not like a traditional preseason training camp because we are in school, so we are limited to 20 hours a week, just like you would during a normal game week. Normally, when you are in preseason camp you have meetings in the morning and then practice and then guys are getting treatment, they are not in class. You bring them back early in the afternoon. So a typical day, like today, a Monday because we are in class, they won’t come back from meetings tonight until 5 or 6 o’clock depending on what the academic schedule is because when we are done at 11, they are in class until 5 or 6. Some of our kids have night classes so the position coaches will have to meet with them as one-offs. There are some limitations from that standpoint but we all understand its a unique year, but we have to be extremely flexible in how this thing is going to operate if we are going to have the opportunity to get on the field and play in November.
On what went into the switch to a 4-2-5 defense and what Brian Norwood’s role will be:
Kelly: That’s our nickel package so it’s just an adjustment in our nickel package, so we still have the base package and the nickel package. So we haven’t really changed. I think, Brian changed, some of the techniques, how you teach us things, and some of the terminology, on how we teach systems so you know Paul (Rhoads) may call it black and Brian calls it red because that’s what Brian understands it as, so I allow our coaches flexibility like that. Same thing with Coach Nansen. Johnny’s added some stuff from what he’s done. Really the 4-2-5 spacing is nickel spacing, which we ran, actually, I think we were a nickel more than were in base because in this league right now, there’s more spread offenses. so you face more 10 and 11 personnel then you do more 21 and 12 personnel. So it’s still dictated by what the other team is going to present to you. If we’re going to play like a Stanford and they’re going to be in 21 and 22 personnel than we would be in bigger base personnel with three down linemen readout and four linebackers and four DBs. So, really it’s what the offenses that we’re going to face and how they position themselves. But when you go back to our breakdown on a year ago, we were actually in four-down, nickel, more than we were in base just because of the teams we played.
On what the plan is to replace, or attempt to replace Joshua Kelley:
Kelly: I think just depends on who the guys are. I mean, obviously, Joshua was our bell-cow. Everybody would say, everybody understood to that Joshua was the true No. 1. And it plays out that he’s No. 1 on the Chargers now. I think anybody, any coach you ask would love to have a bell-cow. If you have a bell-cow you’ve got a tremendous running back. We’ll find out through training, as we get ready for the seventh is how the position will shake itself out. We’ve got one really experienced player in Demetric Felton who I think is a jack of all trades that can play receiver, that can play running back and can catch the ball coming out of the backfield, he can do everything you want as a running back. We’ve obviously added Brittain Brown. Brittain’s a bigger back, more towards Josh’s size, and some smaller backs in Kaz Allen and Keegan Jones, and Christian Grubb. As we continue to get reps here, it’s still early in preseason, so to speak, we’ll figure out how that thing will shake itself out. But you always want your back to be able to do everything. And they’ve got to be able to run the ball, they obviously have to be able to pass protect, and they have to be able to touch the ball coming out of the backfield and then when you figure out what their strengths are, you just play to those strengths, so we’re still in the process. I think we’ve got a pretty good deal of the returning players, in terms of what their strengths and weaknesses are, it’s really just getting a real good feel for Brittain, in terms of what he is and how we can deploy him to attack defenses. So we feel pretty good about in the first couple of days we’ve had him after he’s impressive. We’ll see how this whole thing shakes itself out. And again that’s, barring any injury. Obviously, if you get an injury then someone may be forced to be the bell-cow because you don’t have anybody else. But for right now, we’re really just trying to figure out how that position will sort itself out after losing Josh, just because Josh played so many critical snaps for us. Those snaps have to go to somebody so we’ll figure out who those snaps are going to go to.
When asked about specifics between the tight end group, and potential lack of depth:
Kelly: No, we actually really like our tight end group. I think Greg Dulcich, [Michael] Martinez, they’ve really done a nice job. We’ve added, David Priebe has had a really good off-season and preseason and then adding Evidence Njoku, and [Michael] Churich who’s a walk-on for us so it is really a question of playing time. So, I’m excited about our depth at tight end. Mike has got significant experience in there. Greg played wideout/tight end, he’s up to 238 pounds, I think. He has certainly has really embraced the role of moving to tight end permanently and we’re excited about that group of prospects.