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UCLA Football: UC Berkeley Post-Game Roundtable

The writers and editors of Bruins Nation discuss UCLA’s 30-27 victory over the Golden Bears.

NCAA Football: California at UCLA Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

1. How do you think the first game of the Jedd Fisch Interregnum went?

orlandobruin: I thought that Jedd Fisch did a nice job at the helm, especially how he altered the game plan to fit Devon Modster’s skill set. He will make a fine head coach somewhere (likely next season, IMHO), and potentially an outstanding one if he could hitch his star with a great defensive coordinator. Some program will be very lucky to get him next season. Imagine the success he’d have with even a good (not great) top 40 defense--the 40th best team in scoring defense this season allows 23 yards per game. That is a relatively low bar for a Fisch coached offense.

Markybcool: I have been at the front of the Coach Fisch bandwagon all year. He seems to have a great offensive mind and a good feel for calling games.

Ted Baas: Fisch did a really good job, I was especially impressed with how he dealt with Rosen’s injury. It seems probable to me that he’ll land a head coaching job next year and will likely do a fine job. It would have been interesting to see what Fisch could have done with this team for an entire year…

AnteatersandBruins: I thought he did an excellent job. I felt like he made some great adjustments when Rosen went out and managed the last drive in a scientific fashion. It almost looked like Fisch out coached Mora.

Joe Piechowski: Well, he got the team to bowl-eligibility by winning and that’s the bottom line.

Dimitri Dorlis: I thought he was fine. It was clear throughout the game that he was struggling at times in focusing on the offense while being the overall leader, but that’s something that takes practice. If Chip Kelly hadn’t been clearly hired prior to this game, it would have been a decent first impression, and at least he does get to coach a bowl game now.

2. Devon Modster came into the game, and he did enough to get the victory, especially a great showing on the game-winning drive. How would you rate his performance, and do you think he has a shot at the starting job next year?

orlandobruin: I love the third part of this question. But the first two parts first. I give Modster an A minus. He was 14 of 18 for 191 yards, no touchdowns but, importantly, no interceptions. He executed a more conservative game plan very well. That final drive was outstanding, well called by Fisch and well executed by Modster. 3-4 for 33 yards and 3 yards rushing, with a huge assist to Howard on the block that sprung Lasley for the big chunk play. With respect to Modster’s chances of starting, considering the uncertainty of the two major variables (new Head Coach Chip Kelly; top-rated dual-threat QB Dorian Thompson-Robinson), it is tough to look into the crystal ball and see how it will shake out. Modster has a shot. But who do you really want to see starting in Norman, Oklahoma next September 8th? No matter what happens, it should be thrilling to watch it all play out.

Markybcool: I thought he did a much better job in this game than he did against Washington. He just seemed more comfortable, and I agree with Orlando, the way he handled the final drive was enough for me to give him two thumbs-up. As for Modster’s chances for next year, I am sure he will be given an opportunity to win the job.

Ted Baas: He did all that can be expected from a player with less than 30 pass attempts in his college career before this game. In terms, of Modster starting next year it’s possible not probable. I think Kelly will favor candidate Dorian Thompson-Robinson, as a legit dual-threat quarterback works in well with Kelly’s preferred offensive schemes.

AnteatersandBruins: I thought he looked leaps and bounds better than his last outing. I agree with the others in that there are variables next year with a new coach and an incoming phenom, but he has as good a chance as any. He maintained composure under pressure and showed improvement, which is about all you can ask from a QB unexpectedly coming off the bench in a game that could get you to the postseason or leave you out.

Joe Piechowski: I agree. He looked a lot better than his last outing. It’s a little early to say because there are too many questions that need answering first. Does Chip Kelly retain Jedd Fisch as his offensive coordinator? Does Josh Rosen return? How raw is Dorian Thompson-Robinson? After all, this year was his first year playing quarterback.

Dimitri Dorlis: Obviously this depends on Josh Rosen returning, but if he’s gone, I think Modster can be competitive in a QB competition next year. He’s a mobile quarterback with a good downfield passing game, and this game showed that he has a solid level of composure when needed. DTR is going to be the big name coming in, but I wouldn’t count Modster out just yet.

3. UCLA is going bowling! How important is this for new head coach Chip Kelly?

orlandobruin: Personally, I don’t think that the extra practice time for bowl preparation will help much at all with the integration of Chip Kelly’s new system in the spring. They’ll be practicing Fisch’s playbook for the next few weeks, not Kelly’s. I am, however, excited for the players playing their last game in blue and gold getting one last chance to play. Independence Bowl? Heart of Dallas Bowl? Something else? And I am even more excited about spring practice.

Markybcool: Anytime you get an opportunity to see some of your future players prepare, practice and play, it’s a positive. It will also give Kelly a chance to observe the coaches. He’s going to have to make decisions on the futures of all of the UCLA coaches.

AnteatersandBruins: It gives Kelly more live ball to see, but he obviously has plenty of tape to look at from this year. If anything, it gives our seniors another chance to play.

Joe Piechowski: Again, it depends on whether or not Kelly decides to retain Fisch. If I had to guess, I would say that I don’t expect Kelly to retain Fisch, or Tom Bradley for that matter, which means that there probably is little benefit to Chip Kelly from the extra practices and extra game. The only possible benefit may be giving Kelly the opportunity to evaluate the players who will still be on the roster. That said, I am glad that the seniors will be able to play in one final game together.

Dimitri Dorlis: The extra practices are good for the team if only because they can get more reps in for the younger players, which is a positive, but beyond that, it gives Chip Kelly a first-hand viewing of how the team currently practices, which can help inform any changes he makes. It also will allow him to better judge the abilities of any of the coaches on staff. There’s no real downside here.

4. Oh yeah, we should talk about that. Chip Kelly! Initial thoughts?

orlandobruin: I am excited because of his coaching pedigree and I cannot wait to see how his Bruin teams will move the ball, but I am tempering my enthusiasm because I do have concerns about the show cause order at Oregon. Yes it has expired and yes the NCAA did not find that he had actual knowledge of the financial transaction at issue, but it is paramount that he not in any way sully the four letters while coaching here. I am pleased that the Morgan Center is taking steps to possibly awaken the sleeping giant that is UCLA Football, but I am hoping beyond hope that the integrity of the program is not sacrificed. IMHO, I don’t think that the hire, by itself, hurts the identity of the program at this time. But I wonder (and worry about) what the future holds . . .

Markybcool: Earlier in the year when Bruins Nation brought up the idea of Chip coaching at UCLA, I was not interested. I was more interested in letting Coach Fisch take over. As the chances of Coach Mora being let go became more realistic and eventually happened, I also changed my tune. Chip brings something to UCLA that was missing, and that is a coach that has won in college football during this modern area of the game. Chip was 46-7 at Oregon. Winning 87% of your games as a coach means you’re good...real good! So I am excited to see the way he transforms the culture of UCLA Football.

Ted Baas: I am excited to see a fresh start to UCLA football. Though I would have not been disappointed with Jedd Fisch taking over, Kelly brings a rare pedigree to UCLA, and if I may add much more flare than the previous administration.

AnteatersandBruins: Frankly, I was shocked when Dan Guerrero actually fired a coach before the season ended and had a quality coach hired within a week. It was literally a Thanksgiving miracle. His win percentage is up there with Nick Saban, so as long as he can keep it clean, I’m 100% behind the guy.

Joe Piechowski: It isn’t shocking that Dan Guerrero fired a coach after the Southern Cal game since that game is viewed as the traditional end of the season. What’s shocking is that UCLA landed the guy who was their first choice. Dan Guerrero and his search team deserve a ton of credit and congratulations for accomplishing that. Kelly checked all the boxes at his press conference on Monday and he totally crushed it. It was a great day to be a Bruin!


5. Are there any coaches that you would like to see retained from this staff? Any coaches you want to see Kelly bring in?

orlandobruin: Strength and Conditioning Coach Sal Alosi needs to go. Most of the defensive coaches need to go but I think very strong consideration needs to be given to D Line Coach and Recruiting Coordinator, Algus McClure. I hope that Tight End Coach Rip Scherer gets consideration as well. As much as it pains me to say it because he is and always will be a great Bruin, I think RB Coach DeShaun Foster might be out.

Markybcool: If social media is any indication, Angus McClure and Demetrice Martin would be the top picks. Both of these gentlemen are integral parts of the recruiting of UCLA, and some of our future defensive targets have already chimed in with their hopes that Demetrice Martin be retained. I would obviously say that I want Coach Fisch to stay as well, but that would probably be a stretch.

AnteatersandBruins: I definitely agree with Markybcool on this one. The top recruiters should stay as well as Fisch. Fisch won’t be around long anyway, and he’d have a hell of a resume to show other programs if he gets poached after next year.

Joe Piechowski: I’m not sure any will be retained, but I think it’s more likely that coaches on the offensive side of the ball will be retained than coaches on the defensive side of the ball. As far as defensive coaches go, I think Angus McClure and Coach Meat could be retained for their recruiting prowess, but I also think that the play of the defense could result in both of them leaving the program.

Dimitri Dorlis: I went over this in more detail in the Eye Test, but as of right now I’d say McClure, Martin, Dougherty, and Foster have the best shots at being retained, while Fisch would be on the fence with regards to whether he wants to come back or not. Bradley and White appear to be gone regardless.

6. The Extra Point - Sound off!

orlandobruin: It seemed to me that it had been a long time since UCLA won a game on a field goal in the final seconds of regulation. I just had not felt that particular feeling after a Bruin game in a long time. So I looked it up. Before Friday, the last time UCLA won a game on a field goal in the final seconds of regulation was a 45-43 victory over Arizona State in Tempe on October 27, 2012. The 8th game of the Jim L. Mora era. Wow.

Markybcool: The feeling around UCLA Football has changed, and it changed instantly when we hired Chip Kelly. The fact that UCLA beat out a SEC school for a coach, no matter the reason, is a win for the Pac-12 and UCLA Football. UCLA’s history of not being able to attract the best coach available has gone out the window. UCLA identified their coaching target, zeroed in, developed a plan to get Chip to Westwood and obviously executed the plan. The fact that the only circus about this hire occured on social media and not in Westwood is a testament to all involved in the process of bringing Chip Kelly to UCLA. Kudos to all of you once again, and yes that includes our UCLA Athletic Department!

AnteatersandBruins: Funny that orlandobruin brought up that ASU win--I was there and can still see that kick coming off Fairbairn’s foot. I was thinking about that drive on Friday night as Molson was driving the kick in. At the same time I was reading emails and checking the news to see if Kelly’s hiring had been made official yet, and it just seemed like we were finally turning a corner and things were going our way. I appreciate what Mora did for the program. Hell, he gave his own money for the new facilities. But the last two seasons proved he had run his course, and it was time for a change. I’m glad we’re ending the regular season on a positive note.

Joe Piechowski: I was extremely impressed by Coach Kelly at his press conference. He addressed my single biggest concern about his hiring head on. He owned his mistake. He didn’t try to dismiss it at all. That was huge in my opinion. And, his initial press conference was a big hit. If you contrast that with Steve Alford’s introductory press conference, it was night and day.

Dimitri Dorlis: It can’t be understated how impressive this win was from a team standpoint. And by that, I mean the Bruins went from a disappointing loss to Southern Cal on a Saturday, to learning their coach was fired on Sunday (though the firing occurred Saturday night), to having to get ready for a game on Friday while hearing rumors on an active coaching search. Oh yeah, and a victory would guarantee a bowl bid. Given all of that, to come out and secure a victory is nothing short of impressive.