Chip Kelly was wildly successful at the University of Oregon, taking the Ducks to the Bowl Championship Series national championship game in 2011, but lukewarm coaching the Philadelphia Eagles and San Francisco 49ers.
Last Saturday, Kelly’s UCLA debut wasn’t stellar as the Bruins were stunned by Cincinnati, 26-17, at the Rose Bowl.
Across town at the Coliseum, the J.T. Daniels era at USC began slowly, but picked up momentum in the fourth quarter as the No. 15 Trojans scored 24 points en route to a 43-21 pasting of UNLV.
Wilton Speight, a University of Michigan graduate who transferred to UCLA, was the projected starter at quarterback, but injured his back in the second quarter and replaced by freshman Dorian Thompson-Robinson.
Speight is a pure pocket passer, while Thompson-Robinson, who played at Bishop Gorman High in Las Vegas, is a dual threat who is working on his passing accuracy.
Thompson-Robinson converted 15 of 25 for 117 yards, but had a fumble that led to a safety and a 19-17 lead for Cincinnati with 9:45 left in the fourth quarter.
UCLA (306 total net yards) made good use of a Bearcat fumble as junior running back Bolu Olorunfunme (13 yards on nine carries) scored from a yard out for a 7-0 lead as 7:38 remained.
When junior J.J. Molson nailed a 47-yard field goal with 2:02 left in the first quarter the Bruins glided ahead 10-0.
The Bearcats, who were 4-8 the last two seasons, trimmed the lead to 10-7 when sophomore running back Michael Warren II shoved his way in from one yard, capping a 75-yard, 14-play march with 10:02 left in the opening half.
Another one-yard carry by Warren (career-best 141 yards on 35 carries) and 6:57 left before the break gave Cincinnati (304 total yards) a 14-10 lead.
UCLA freshman running back Kazemir Allen (103 yards on five carries), who won the state high school 100 meters, showed off his speed on a 74-yard sprint that evened it at 17-17 with 12:40 showing in the third.
Cincinnati was about to attempt a short field goal by freshman Cole Smith, who hit a 24-yarder just before the half that made it 17-10, but the Bruins had 12 players on the field which led to Warren’s one-yard tally that made it 26-17 with 1:44 left.
Daniels, a freshman who toiled at Mater Dei, hit 22 of 35 for 282 yards and a 43-yard touchdown early in the fourth that went to another Mater Dei alum, freshman wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown (98 yards on seven catches) that made it 26-14.
USC (501 yards to 405 for the Rebels) saw sophomore Chase McGrath kick field goals of 46, 38, 29, 47 and 36 yards.
Rick Assad has written about sports for the Pasadena Star-News and Los Angeles Times. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.