This week is flying by very quickly due to the fact that the UCLA Bruins play the Utah Utes on Friday night.
To accomodate that, UCLA football head coach Chip Kelly chose to eliminate the players’ offday on Sunday, much like he did during the week the Bruins played the Colorado Buffaloes. Because of that, if you blinked, you probably missed this week’s media availability.
So, we’re going to catch up on all of this week’s pregame interviews at once.
Let’s start off this Jumbo Edition of the Spaulding Report with Sunday’s interviews.
Chip Kelly touched on a whole host of subjects mostly related to Saturday’s game against Arizona. He wouldn’t say much about the injury to Dorian Thompson-Robinson except to say that they were going to see how he is.
He also briefly discussed Wilton Speight, saying that Speight had “trained really well the last couple weeks.”
Of course, he was asked about penalties, but denied that they’ve been a problem “all year,” citing the UC Berkeley game as an example of a game where penalties were well-controlled. At the same time, he discussed the calls from Saturday’s game against Arizona and went as far as to call the three illegal procedure calls “unacceptable.”
He was also asked about both Demetric Felton and Ethan Fernea. On Felton, Kelly denied that he was getting more playing time, but said that he was getting more touches. He also praised Felton for his ability to block and said he’s “doing a heck of a job in terms of what we ask him to do.”
“I think he brings everything to the field,” Kelly said about Felton. “I think he’s not just a one-dimensional player I think he can do everything.”
Later he discussed Fernea. “He’s just been playing better in all phases,” Kelly said. “We’re trying to develop our depth and he has contributed really well on special teams.”
Kelly also praised the overall play of the offensive line on Saturday. “I thought overall they did a good job, especially in the fourth quarter when we really needed it,” he said. “We had 6-play drive for a touchdown and 175 yards and then we had that 12-play drive at the end that ate up 6 minutes and 45 seconds on the clock. So I thought they did a really good job then.”
Thanks to UCLA Athletics for Chip Kelly’s Sunday inteview,
After practice, it was tight ends Caleb Wilson and Devin Asiasi.
One of the things Wilson spoke about was the team’s two-game winning streak. “I think guys are excited to win, but I don’t think we’re making one week bigger than the next,” he said. “I think everybody is just focused on one week at a time and just being 1-0 during that certain week.”
Wilson also discussed Andre James’ decision to come back and play after the death of his father last week.
He’s a great guy...great teammate. So, it’s always awesome to have him out there, but just knowing everything he goes through and how tough he is and how he rarely shows his emotions. He’s talked to me taught the whole process about what’s been going on with his dad, but just to see how strong he was, because he didn’t have to come back. I mean, none of us would have been mad at him if he were to stay in Utah and been there for his family during the weekend. None of us would have looked at him any type of way, but he thought it was right thing to come back and help us win a game and compete. He played his tail off.. So, I mean, it’s really an honor for me to line up next to him.
Devin Asiasi gave his first interview since joining the Bruins. Asiasi discussed his first touchdown at UCLA. “It felt good. I came a long way,” Asiasi said. “I’ve been putting in a lot of hard work in and him coming from Michigan...both of us coming from Michigan, it felt good.”
Asiasi also discussed what having to sit out last year after his transfer was like.
I was very humbling time. You’re not playing. You’re watching your teammates on the sidelines and you’ve got to really get back into your craft and then work on your stuff and you’re not gonna be playing every weekend. So, it’s really about working on your stuff and being humble in the whole process and getting ready for the next year.
Sunday’s player interviews are courtesy of UCLA Athletics.
On Monday, it was just Lokeni Toailoa and Elijah Gates meeting with the media.
Toailoa was asked about defensive takeaways. “It’s kind of just pretty simple. If we’re on defense and we take the ball from them, they can’t score without the ball,” Toailoa said.
Lokeni also explained what he saw when Darnay Holmes forced a fumble for a touchdown on Saturday.
I see Darnay. He just had a different demeanor to him and I see him once he was kind of in position to make the tackle and he did it. I was kind of took me a second. “Oh, he’s going for the ball.” the next thing I know, the ball’s in the air and Darnay he’s picking it up and we’re just in the end zone having fun.
Elijah Gates spoke about what the defense needs to do. “As a defense, we just got to keep playing how we are playing,” Gates said. “We’ve just got to keep playing hard...and finishing.”
Thanks to UCLA Athletics for Monday’s player interviews.
Moving to yesterday, the final day of media interviews before Friday’s game, we start off with Chip Kelly.
Coach Kelly spoke about the injury situation a little bit. He indicated that Dorian Thompson-Robinson has been practicing, but, as usual, he refused to bite on a question about whether he would start Friday. He replied with his ol’ reliable response: “He could sprain his ankle Thursday afternoon and he won’t be able to play.”
He did, however, talk about what the Bruins’ focus is in response to a question about what he has pleased him most about the last few games. Here’s what Coach Kelly said.
Points for and points against. We don’t really look back very much. If we look back. we will get crushed by Utah. So, our sole focus immediately after the Arizona game was “Let’s get the last game broken down for Utah. Let’s get ready to play. We’re on a short week on a six-day turnaround, not a seven-day turnaround.” So, we don’t sit here and say, “Hey! We did this and we did that.” You turn the Utah tape on and that’ll get your attention. It’s our folks sole focus and attention.
Thanks to Matt Joye of Bruin Report Online for sharing the video of Coach Kelly.
Finally today is Quentin Lake’s interview from after practice yesterday.
Naturally, Lake spoke about his interception and his excitement following it. He chalked up the fact that he tried to run it back to that excitement and mentioned that the coaches told him to take a knee next time to give the offense better field position.
He also mentioned that he told Darnay Holmes to stay in the end after the fumble recovery because of what happened with his interception. Lake said:
I had to learn from my lesson. So, I told him, “If you can’t get 30,” because our coaches tell us, “If you can’t get 30, take a knee.”
Thanks again to UCLA Athletics for Quentin Lake’s interview.