The UCLA Bruins ended their season on a much needed high note. With several question marks heading into next year, there were encouraging signs from this Chip Kelly led team. For a season that had a promising start, and a rough offensive patch, it was an encouraging evening from this coaching staff and team tonight. To over come injury obstacles and show the adjustments out of halftime, this will hopefully serve as the foundation for their upcoming initial Big Ten campaign.
UCLA Bruins First Half
The first half looked the way many of the most recent UCLA Bruins losses played out. There were not a lot of positives on offense. Collin Schlee started the game at quarerback and was not really able to the passing game going. He finished 11/16 for 76 yards and a score. But really outside of their one scoring drive, the UCLA Bruins had trouble gaining first downs to move the chains.
The biggest threat by far, was Schlee with his feet. Especially on the scoring drive, he had two big gains on the ground, to set up the eventual score. He finished with 127 rushing yards. Unfortunately, this proved to lead to his night coming to an end. After taking multiple hits, and looking like he was in great discomfort, his last big run resulted in Ethan Garbers taking over.
In terms of the defense, the UCLA Bruins were looking very vulnerable to the rushing attack of Boise State. The highly touted rushing duo of George Holani and Ashton Jeanty was as advertised. Averaging 6.6 yards a carry between them for the game, it looked like they could’ve gained 60 on any given rush attempt.
UCLA Bruins Second Half
Coming out of half time, the defense did a better job of limiting the Boise State rushing attack and forcing the first time starter, true freshman CJ Tiller to try to win the game as a passer. Tiller did a nice job of making his shorter completions, finding his play makers off of screens. But the game was sealed when he threw an interception to a more aware Alex Johnson.
Ethan Garbers kept playing well, and really looked nice running the UCLA Bruins offense. He looked comfortable throwing the ball and made some nice deeper completions. One of his highlights came when he threw a 40 yard pass to J. Michael Sturdivant for a touchdown. What is most exciting is that this is a potential combination that could continue to make electric plays next year for the UCLA Bruins.
UCLA Bruins 2024 Look Ahead
The UCLA Bruins will have a lot to try and figure out in the offseason. A likely quarterback battle will happen in the spring for the starting position. And this team will really need to not only make up on defense for the departing talent to the NFL, but also improve as they face new opponents in the Big Ten Conference.
Next year they would not face the likes of Ohio State or Michigan, unless it were in the Big Ten Championship. Though they face a tough three game gauntlet in late September and early October, when they play LSU, Oregon, and Penn State in back to back weeks.
For now, the UCLA Bruins can enjoy this win, but looking forward, big question marks need to be answered if the UCLA Bruins are going to have a successful 2024.