Even before LSU takes on UCLA Saturday at 7:30 p.m. CT in the Tigers’ 2021 season opener in Rose Bowl Stadium, the Bruins have the advantage of already playing a game.
They hammered Hawaii 44-10 this past weekend, scoring 24 points in first quarter and coasting home with the win.
But UCLA coach Chip Kelly and his players know taking on the Tigers is a challenge on a whole new level. Here’s what they had to say about LSU in Monday’s media availability:
UCLA coach Chip Kelly
On LSU having to move to Houston to practice because Hurricane Ida
First of all, my thoughts and prayers go out to the people of Louisiana. It’s a lot bigger than football what they are going through. They experienced Katrina 16 years ago and this storm was as big as Katrina, so we hope everybody is safe down there. I feel for Coach O and the team. They moved, but they had to leave their families. That’s a difficult situation for anybody.
On what he saw on film the difference why LSU won a national championship two years ago and last year went 5-5
It’s what happens in all of college football. It’s a yearly deal. It’s very tough to sustain. They lost a bunch of (NFL) draft picks, the No. 1 pick in the draft in Joe Burrow, JaMarr Chase didn’t play (last season) and he got drafted really high this year. Justin Jefferson was probably the top receiver in the NFL last year as a rookie.
The other thing Coach O dealt with was turnover on staff, new coordinators on both side of the ball (note: there was just one new coordinator). They started probably not the way they wanted to, but they actually finished strong.
They won their last two games, so they are on a high note from the momentum heading into this season. I’m really excited about the challenge. It’s a really good football team. It’s going to have talent every step of the way, whether it’s at wideout, running back, offensive line. They have two of the best corners we’ll see this season.
On preparing for an opponent that has two new coordinators
You look at LSU film to get an understanding of what the personnel is like. You see where the coordinators came from and what schemes they were familiar with. It sounds like they’re going back to where they were when (passing game coordinator) Joe Brady was there (in 2019). You have an idea, but you have to make adjustments on the run.
We had to make adjustments on the run in the Hawaii game. A lot of things Hawaii did last season they weren’t doing this year. You’ve got to be prepared. We saw more four-down defenses from Hawaii than they played the season before. That usually happens at the beginning of the year. Once you get two or three games in, each team’s identity shows itself.
We’ve got to be agile, especially early in the game. It’s what we practiced against and what we thought we were going to get we got. If not, we’ve got to make adjustments.
On if there is something UCLA can do to neutralize LSU all-American Derek Stingley Jr.
Not that it’s legal. People at the next level talk about him. Sharp, great technique and obviously has a skill that works perfect for that position. As a coach, at times when you see someone that talented, you actually kind of admire him.
On the play of UCLA’s offensive line helping the Bruins’ rush for 254 yards and four TDs in the season opening win
Our O-line did a really nice job. But when you watch the film as a coach and a player, there’s a million things you need to fix. It’s going to take a big step up this week in terms of our opponent.
UCLA quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson
On LSU’s secondary
They have a bunch of first-round guys. It’s going to be our toughest matchup probably for all season. We’ve got our work cut out for us. I think we’ll be prepared and ready for them.
On what stands out most on film about Derek Stingley Jr.
Very physical, a ballhawk. Has very good ball skills, he can cover real well. He just knows how to play defensive back. Like I said, we’ve got our work cut out for us, him and (Eli) Ricks on the other side. If we execute our assignments, I think we’ll be alright.
On the team’s confidence level
We know the task at hand. We know what type of Hawaii was compared to LSU. We’ve got to take it day by day. We have a bunch of super seniors and seniors to keep everybody’s head straight.
On if LSU’s defense will stack the box to stop UCLA’s running game
They’ve got new coordinators on both sides of the ball, so like Hawaii we’re not going to know what to expect. We’re always prepared for anything they throw at us. . .we do what we do.
UCLA linebacker Bo Calvert
On UCLA’s defense
It’s a great group. Excited to keep putting pressure on quarterbacks, putting different looks and just having guys confused. You saw that last Saturday that offenses are often confused by the looks we’re giving them simply from the movement we’re doing and the different pressures we can bring.
We’re running similar things from last year. But guys are more experienced, they are more comfortable and understand how the whole defense works together. . .we had a lot of guys making plays. Linebackers made sacks, edge rushers got sacks, interior defensive linemen getting interceptions.
On LSU starting quarterback Max Johnson
He’s a lefty quarterback. Just excited to get after him. LSU is LSU. That’s the team we’ve got this week. To be honest with you, they (LSU) are going to say it’s just another game and that’s what it is. It’s week 2 for us. Decide what we’re going to run. They’re going to run what they’re going to run. The best prepared team is going to win on Saturday. I really believe that, it’s not just a saying.