Chip Kelly pares down QB race, bars 6 players for UCLA debut
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Chip Kelly is getting closer to choosing his first quarterback at UCLA.
He has also identified six players that will be suspended for his anticipated debut leading the Bruins on Saturday.
Offensive lineman Boss Tagaloa, tight end Devin Asiasi, running back Soso Jamabo, defensive lineman Osa Odighizuwa, defensive back Mo Osling and defensive lineman Moses Robinson-Carr will not play against Cincinnati because of unspecified violations of athletic department policies.
Tagaloa and Asiasi are each suspended for the first three games of the season. Jamabo will also miss the game at No. 7 Oklahoma next week.
“We got to move on, and they understand what the punishment is and they have got to hopefully learn from it,” Kelly said Monday. “It’s a teachable point for them to understand how their actions can impact other things.”
Offensive tackle Andre James said Kelly’s push to make accountability a staple of his program is reflected in the decision to announce the suspensions.
“What happened, that’s between Coach and those guys. They know what they did, but we’re just stepping up as a group and I think everyone is doing a great job,” James said.
Kelly also released his first depth chart, which revealed the former Oregon and NFL coach has narrowed the six-man quarterback competition to redshirt sophomore Devon Modster, Michigan graduate transfer Wilton Speight and freshman Dorian Thompson-Robinson.
Kelly said “those three kids have really distanced themselves” from redshirt sophomore Matt Lynch, redshirt freshman Austin Burton and freshman walk-on Josiah Norwood, but he was still not ready to name a starter.
“It’s not a set day that ‘this is this,’” Kelly said. “But we’re not fair to the other guys if we just say, ‘All right, we’re going to pick a guy today, then let’s pick him.’ The one thing that’s good is there has been a really good healthy competition, and the three of those guys have really done some impressive things. I want to make sure we’re thorough in our evaluation.”
Modster is the only quarterback on the roster who has started a game at UCLA, making two starts last season when Josh Rosen was injured and showing the ability to make plays as a passer and runner.
Speight, who made 16 starts in three seasons with the Wolverines, is more of a prototypical pocket passer in line with the quarterbacks Kelly had during his three seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles.
Thompson-Robinson is the most dynamic athlete among the three candidates, but lacks experience after starting one season at Bishop Gorman High School in Las Vegas.
“They’re all different,” Kelly said. “No quarterbacks are carbon copies of each other, but they all have the requisite skills to run this offense, so we’ll see how it shakes out this week.”
UC Davis transfer Joshua Kelley and senior Bolu Olorunfunmi topped the depth chart at running back, but Kelly said he could use as many as five different rushers.
Kelly’s focus on the minutia of game week should keep him from making any declarations about where UCLA stands going into its first game with him in charge.
“I don’t think we’re taking a marco approach to it of, ‘Hey, what about this?,’ We’re into ‘what is Monday,’ and Monday for us is first down and two-minute situations, and end of the games and end of halves. We’re not looking big picture, we’re looking Monday,” Kelly said.
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