Here at House of Sparky we reached out to our friends at Bruins Nation to find out about how Chip Kelly has done in his first year, the quarterback situation and how UCLA will try to limit N’Keal Harry. Here are Dimitri Dorlis’ answers.
Brady Vernon: Arizona State and UCLA got plenty of headlines with their hires of Herm Edwards and Chip Kelly. How would you grade Kelly’s performance so far through year one?
Dimitri Dorlis: It’s difficult to say, really. The year has, in many aspects, been much worse than UCLA fans assumed it would be entering the season. Hell, there are still 3 games left and UCLA has already missed on their Vegas Over/Under mark. There are things that are starting to give me pause (the lack of development in-season, the recruiting) but I’m still at the “give him time” phase of the relationship. So the grade would probably end up as an Incomplete. There’s just not a lot there to grade accurately yet.
BV: Dorian Thompson-Robinson and Wilton Speight have each had chances at quarterback due to Thompson-Robinson’s health, can you point out what each do well and don’t do well in case the Sun Devils see either one of them on Saturday?
DD: I’m writing this on Wednesday, where it looks like Wilton Speight may get the start thanks to being the quarterback practicing with the first team. Of course, I could have said this last week as well, where Speight worked with the starters all week only to have Dorian Thompson-Robinson start on Saturday. With Speight, you get your typical veteran quarterback stuff - he’s calm in the pocket, crafty when necessary, shows an understanding of what he has to do to have success on the field. He doesn’t have the strongest arm, and he’s athletic enough to scramble, but it’s not his strength. Meanwhile, Thompson-Robinson is almost a caricature of a true freshman quarterback - he’s very athletic, has a big arm, and is incredibly raw. He only had a year of starting at QB at the high school level, so he’s not as far along in his development as other true freshmen might be, and it shows in how inconsistent he can be while playing. But at the same time, Thompson-Robinson has the raw physical tools that Speight can only dream off. Picking between the two is a case of whether you go with the steady vet who won’t win or lose a game for you, or the raw newcomer who can absolutely win or lose the game for you.
BV: Caleb Wilson was a top target for Josh Rosen last year before Wilson went down with an injury, how has Wilson helped the two quarterbacks this season?
DD: Wilson is probably the one player right now that I’d say is destined to leave early and enter the NFL draft, because he’s incredibly talented at finding open space, making the catch, and gaining yards after catch. I feel bad for him, because had he been eligible to leave after last season, he’d have had a chance to be a 1st round talent, but this year has definitely hurt his draft stock through no fault of his own. UCLA’s quarterbacks have each spent time almost forgetting Wilson has existed this year, which is crazy, yet he’s still able to generate a big play when given the opportunity. You don’t want to ignore him on defense, no matter what.
BV: We ask this every week, but who and how do you believe the Bruins will try to limit N’Keal Harry’s production on Saturday? If it’s possible at this point.
DD: UCLA will limit N’Keal Harry’s production by making it so the Sun Devils never pass. Seriously, though: UCLA’s run defense is very bad, especially with the linebackers, while UCLA’s secondary is their one (relative) strength defensively, so ASU may just decide to run the ball as often as possible, which would necessarily limit how crazy Harry can get. Also maybe UCLA tries to bracket Harry as well? I wouldn’t count on it though; UCLA’s secondary is needed in run support, so you’ll probably see Harry in one-on-one coverage for a good amount of the day.
BV: Score Prediction and why?
DD: I don’t think the Sun Devils are a great team, but UCLA is currently spiraling and has all sorts of issues. The only way UCLA wins this is if it turns into a track meet, and UCLA’s offense has not been consistent enough in recent weeks to give me a ton of confidence in them there. I’ll go with a 42-24 Sun Devil victory.