Chip Kelly met with the media for the final time before Saturday’s season opener against Cincinnati yesterday and he seemed to be in a rather playful mood.
Given that this is the last time that Kelly will meet with the media before Saturday’s game, he was asked about the “mechanics” of naming a starting quarterback would work. That’s when his playful mood first started to show.
Kelly responded by saying, “The mechanics are: I’ll say, ‘Hey, you’re going to play tomorrow,’ and then he’ll say, ‘Yay! That’s fantastic!’ So, that’s how that’s working.”
“We haven’t informed anybody, because we haven’t made the decision,” Kelly explained, referring to the fact that he hasn’t yet named a starting quarterback for Saturday’s game. “When we make a decision, we’ll let everybody know. We haven’t talked about it to the players yet, so they’re still just taking reps. We’re not trying to hide anything. That’s the point I keep trying to make on this.”
After a few questions about other topics, the conversation turned right back to the quarterback battle.
Curt Sandoval from ABC7 asked whether Kelly had a deadline or if it could unfold during the game as well.
“Yeah, that could happen,” Kelly responded. “There’s no deadlines. That could happen. I mean we haven’t had any final discussions, but if two guys or three guys warrant playing time, then they’ll get playing time.”
Yet, that still didn’t stop the quarterback questions. When asked what was left in the evaluation process, Kelly said:
Everything. There is no “left in the process.” This is an evolution that goes on on a daily basis. Again, I understand it why everybody is concerned with the quarterback, but I haven’t had one question on who our nickel is. And, that’s an ongoing battle, too, that we need to make sure that we better have a good nickel. So, it’s part of the whole deal. I understand what a quarterback is and how he fits in, what people want to talk about, but, for a coach, every single important position battle is huge. And that’s part of the process.
Of course, the media took the bait as the very next question was about who the starting nickel back would be. Then, as if to toy with them further, Kelly responded with an equally ambiguous answer as the ones he gave about the starting quarterback.
“That’s a great question!” he said, feigning surprise that he was asked about the starting nickel back. “And, we’re going to have to go the next couple of days here to kind of nail down exactly who that is. So, do we move a starting corner inside when we get into nickel situations or do we leave the corners outside and play one of the nickels?”
“Colin Samuel came back and joined us this week for practice.” Kelly continued. “He was out for most of camp. So, we’re trying to see how he can fit in and what he’s able to do for us. So, we’ve got a little more depth in the secondary right now with the addition of Colin coming back. So, that’s another question that we’ll have to sit down as a staff over these next couple of training days and kind of hammer out.”
Meanwhile, after practice, Rick Wade offered his thoughts on the defense, in general, and why he thinks they will be able to stop the run this year. He also spoke about why he likes new Bruin defensive coordinator Jerry Azzinaro.
“The best thing about Coach Azz is that he’s very hard on us and I like it,” Wade said. “He puts us in tough situations on purpose so we learn from it. He shows that he cares for us so which is good. And, he just wants us to be the best. So, I’m on board with everything he’s doing.”
Nate Meadors also discussed how the defense looks to be different this year.
“I think it’s good,” Meadors said. “I think we just bring in a whole different mentality from what we had. So, I think it’s gonna be good for us.”
Meadors explained what was different about last year this way.
“I just think, from last year and how we played,” he said. “I don’t think we were very satisfied at all and us bringing in Chip Kelly and a new staff just gave us more motivation to play better and just have take more pride in it.”
The video of Meadors’ complete interview is courtesy of Tracy Pierson of Bruin Report Online.
Finally, today, we’ve got two interviews from after Tuesday’s practice, courtesy of UCLA Athletics.
Theo Howard is up first. Howard discussed the quarterback battle.
“It’s been a long process from January,” Howard said. “So, now, everybody’s looked good. I like everything I see from Wilton, Devon, Dorian, Matt, all those guys. So, i’m just waiting for them to make a decision. I’ll be happy with whoever they choose.”
Howard also discussed how the team is different now under Chip Kelly, compared to past years. “I would say we probably just started tuned in a little bit more,” Howard said. “We’re just locked in and focused on the goal and details and small stuff that Coach Kelly preaches to us and everybody is just about their business.”
Caleb Wilson also spoke to the media on Tuesday. He addressed what he’s doing to get ready for his return on Saturday.
“I’m just still focused on getting better every day of practice. So, I’m pretty much calm right now, just trying to continue to grow and learn so that by Saturday we’ll be ready. So, I’m just taking one day at a time.”
“I’m just really out here just trying to just perfect my craft and perfect the schematic things and our chemistry everyday so on Saturday we’ll be as efficient as successful as we can,” he said.
Wilson also spoke about the changes that Chip Kelly has made to the team. Wilson said:
I think he’s just trying to bring a winning culture to the team and making sure every single day, we compete and how the habits we create on and on the field affect our our mission and what we want to do as a team...so just everyday habits as far as rest, as far as diet, as far as how you prepare, how you how much film, you watch how you treat each other. I feel like he’s just trying to bring an overall culture that he believes in and bring it to us.
Here’s a piece of trivia that has managed to get forgotten amongst all the excitement brought on by Chip Kelly’s hiring: The UCLA Bruins begin their 100th college football season when they face the Cincinnati Bearcats on Saturday, though it appears that rather than celebrating the 100th season, UCLA will, instead, choose to celebrate the school’s centennial next season by marking the 100th anniversary since the school was founded in 1919.