The California Golden Bears arguably have a critical game coming up that is must-win for bowl eligibility and for keeping our season from spiraling down the drain. The Bears face off against the most-vulnerable team of UCLA Bruins in quite some time being led by the most-vulnerable Chip Kelly in quite some time.
To get a good feel for the game, we spoke to Mike Regalado of Go Joe Bruin and asked him a few questions.
1. Which player on offense should Cal fans know about?
Mike Regalado (MR): The offense has taken its time to mesh, but we are starting to see who the weapons are. I would say the offensive player that Cal fans should know about is RB Joshua Kelley. He is a former walk-on transfer who has worked his way up the ranks. He appears to be the go-to running back after a trial of “running back by committee”. He is determined to get the yards UCLA needs.
2. Which player on defense should Cal fans know about?
MR: Safety Adarius Pickett has not only been a stout defender, but a player who leads by example. He has been UCLA’s leading tackler in the majority of games this season and gained a career-high 16 against Washington last week.
3. Who’s one under-the-radar or X-factor player who could swing this game for UCLA?
MR: It is not a player in a glamour position, but one in the trenches. Since center Boss Tagaloa returned from suspension, the offensive line has been playing with a bit more confidence. With Tagaloa anchoring the line, they have been able to move the ball on the ground as well as hold back the defense to give QB Dorian Thompson-Robinson enough time to make a pass.
4. What does UCLA need to do to win the game?
MR: UCLA fans were shocked to find out that this team actually had an offense. It was a strange sight, but to see good things happen when the Bruins were able to sustain drives gives hope for the future. UCLA was able to do that and more against Washington, a team that arguably has one of the best defenses in the country. If UCLA can do that against Cal, they have a chance at a win (their first of the season).
5. What does Cal need to do to win the game?
MR: Despite the unknown at quarterback, Cal has to find a way to complete the passes in the middle of the field. UCLA’s linebackers are the weak point of the defense and have been exposed by good QB play. If (insert starting Cal QB here) can make those passes in the open—especially just beyond the LBs—they should be able to move the ball with ease.
6. How do you see the game going?
MR: I’m not sure. The defenses will definitely step up, so whichever offense can play more consistently will come out the victor.
7. SBNation’s lead recruiting writer wrote a piece last week about how poor Chip Kelly’s recruiting appears to be. How concerned are you about Chip’s ability to bring in the type of talent UCLA is used to?
MR: Kelly is getting the players who fit his system, buuuuuuut he is not getting a lot of them. I have no problem with him getting lower-rated players if it translates into wins down the line, but right now it does not seem that Kelly and his staff are putting in the effort they need to and going hard at recruits... that is what concerns me.
8. UCLA is in the midst of a historically bad season in the first year of a much-hyped coach. Are the fans unhappy, regretting dropping all this money Chip, and putting him on the hot seat? Or—even if unhappy—do the fans have understanding that this is a rebuilding year and some patience to give him some time?
MR: UCLA fans are all over the place. There are those who can see that Kelly is in rebuild mode and have accepted that it will take time to turn this team into a contender. There are others who are already on the “Fire Chip Kelly” bandwagon. What most people seem to forget is that so many players have left since the end of the 2017 season and he had to replace them with newbies, whether it be true freshmen or transfers. No one thought UCLA would win anything in year one, but most were surprised at how bad they were to start the season. As long as they finish strong and build a foundation for the next few seasons, they should be ok.
9. Whom do you most want to punch in the face?
MR: Guys who go after girls who are already in a relationship. Scumbags. Just kidding. No one actually. I’m a lover, not a fighter. ...on second thought, I wouldn’t mind a shot at that stupid Philadelphia Flyers mascot, Gritty.
Big thanks to Mike for answering all of our questions! Check out our answers to their questions and be sure to check out Go Joe Bruin for the best coverage of UCLA out there. It’s basically Camryn Bynum levels of quality coverage.
What do you predict for Cal–UCLA?
This poll is closed
Big Cal win
Close Cal win
Close UCLA win
Big UCLA win