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Sunday Morning Quarterback, Friday Edition: UCLA’s Chip Kelly Needs to Bench Dorian Thompson-Robinson

The sophomore’s four turnovers cost the Bruins an opportunity to beat Cincinnati last night.

NCAA Football: UCLA at Cincinnati Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to the return of the Sunday Morning Quarterback with a special Friday Edition. As the postgame recap headline reads, I think most Bruin fans were left with a sense of déjà Bruin after last night’s game.

That’s due in large part because the UCLA Bruins starting quarterback looked no different on the field last night than he did during last season. To be sure, he started off pretty good. He completed three of his first four passes in the game. Unfortunately for Bruin fans, those were basically his offensive highlights for the night. In fairness, he did throw for two touchdown passes after that, but Demetric Felton was really responsible for his touchdown reception seeing as how he caught the ball coming out of the backfield and then scampered through the Cincinnati defense for UCLA’s first score.

I’m already imagining how the people wearing Rose Bowl-colored glasses are going to defend him.

“He didn’t have his best running back or receiver or....”


Given the way he was throwing the ball, it wouldn’t have mattered. In fact, he could have been standing on the beach with a beach ball and he wouldn’t have been able to hit the ocean with it. Or, worse, assuming it was a California beach, he could be standing on the beach and he would have thrown it straight to Hawai’i where a Cincinnati defensive back standing on Waikiki would catch it and return it most of the way back to California. Meanwhile, his intended receiver was actually on the beach in Catalina.

Some might want to argue that he “had a bad game.” And you could probably get away with that too, if it weren’t for all the other “bad games” he had last season.

But, in the end, the chip stops here. Yes, that’s right. Ultimately, Chip Kelly is the guy who is responsible for the team’s performance on the field and last night’s performance, much like the first six games of last season, was dreadfully awful.

Just once I would like to see Chip Kelly pull his starting quarterback because he is playing a terrible game.

For all the talk, and let’s face it, almost two years after Kelly was hired, it appears to be just talk, about how the UCLA football program is a meritocracy and the guys who have earned it will be the ones who play, there really appears to be an asterisk next to Kelly’s media statements about the program being a meritocracy* (* denotes use of the word regarding all positions on defense and all positions on offense, except quarterback.)

Because that’s how I’m reading it.

Why? Because, at some point, a coach needs to look at how his player reacts to in-game situations and, so far, there is absolutely no evidence to indicate that Dorian Thompson-Robinson reacts well to those in-game situations. In fact, the preponderance of the evidence suggests that he reacts extremely poorly to adverse in-game situations.

Last season, fans constantly saw him behave like a deer in the headlights and that same look seemed to return last night.

The only questions left are: Why doesn’t Chip Kelly see that too? Why is Chip being so stubborn that he won’t put in another quarterback?

It’s time for him to try something different. It’s time for him to bench Dorian Thompson-Robinson and give someone else an opportunity to step up. After all, what good is a meritocracy* if a player earns playing time in practice and, then, consistently fails to show why they earned playing time when it comes to in-game performance?

Go Bruins.