LOS ANGELES – The new UCLA football drillmaster faced questions about his use of two quarterbacks entering the program.
The Bruins absent their opener as two-touchdown favorites afterwards their starting quarterback ancient the d and his advancement absent a lix in the fourth quarter.
The aggregation went on to bead d afterwards game, starting 0-4 while adverse a boxy schedule.
It had been a boxy aperture ages for Pepper Rodgers.
The aftermost UCLA drillmaster afore Chip Kelly to accessible a division with four afterwards losses ability be abnormally able to feel the affliction of the man in the accepted predicament, alike if Rodgers’ early-season stumbles happened 47 years ago.
“I feel apologetic for him,” Rodgers, 87, said during a blast account this anniversary from his home in Reston, Va., “because I don’t affliction what affectionate of drillmaster you are, you can’t win with players who aren’t acceptable enough.”
Kelly arguable that wasn’t the affair adverse the 2018 Bruins (0-4 overall, 0-1 Pac-12 Conference), who will try to cleft their aboriginal achievement on Saturday at the Rose Bowl adjoin No. 10 Washington (4-1, 2-0). Asked on Tuesday if his aggregation had the aptitude to win, Kelly said, “Sure.”
Across the board?
“Sure,” said Kelly, who affianced his team’s struggles on breakdowns in beheading and advice as able-bodied as penalties.
Rodgers rebounded from his alarming alpha … the aing season. The Bruins won alone two amateur afterwards starting 0-4 in 1971, finishing 2-7-1, afore activity 8-3 in 1972 and 9-2 in 1973. Of course, the achievability of approaching success provided no alleviation amidst accident afterwards accident during Rodgers’ aboriginal season.
Rodgers said there wasn’t abundant aptitude on UCLA’s agenda aback he replaced Tommy Prothro, his above bang-up with the Bruins who had ancient for the NFL afore the 1971 season.
“I apperceive why Tommy Prothro larboard to go to the Rams,” Rodgers said. “One, it was a big-time pro job and No. 2, he didn’t accept any players left.”
The Bruins’ top quarterbacks were inferior academy transfers Mike Flores and Clay Gallagher. Rodgers went with Flores as the amateur in the division opener adjoin Pittsburgh at the Coliseum, but the heavily advantaged Bruins absent the advance afterwards Gallagher was brought into the d in the fourth division because he was advised added sure-handed as the aggregation angry to its active game.
Gallagher coughed up the brawl and UCLA the d afterwards Pittsburgh adapted a lix into the acceptable credibility in a 29-25 triumph.
It didn’t assume to amount who played quarterback the aing anniversary during a 28-10 accident to No. 3 Texas in which the Bruins were absolutely outclassed.
“As (Longhorns coach) Darrell Royal told me aback we played Texas,” Rodgers recalled, ” ‘Your quarterbacks attending like dogs with burst basic on ice.'”
UCLA fell to 0-3 afterwards two turnovers in the game’s aboriginal 11 account bedevilled them in a 38-0 accident to No. 4 Michigan. It was the team’s affliction alpha aback the 1943 aggregation alone its aboriginal seven amateur on the way to a 1-8 finish. The Bruins’ affairs for advance seemed austere with their breach so inept that they punted on a third down.
UCLA appeared assertive for a advance adjoin Oregon State the afterwards week, demography a advance in the third quarter. The Bruins again gave up three touchdowns in a 7 1/2-minute amount on the way to a 34-17 loss, banishment Rodgers to accede actuality emotionally drained from aggravating to end a accident band that had accomplished four games.
He could assuredly breathe in Anniversary 5, but alone afterwards Washington State logged a school-record 10 fumbles, accident the brawl six times, and had two passes intercepted by an advancing UCLA defense. The Bruins gave Rodgers the d brawl afterwards their 34-21 victory, a belated altogether present one day afterwards he had angry 40.
With UCLA’s almanac in appointment comedy at 1-1, Rodgers was asked afterwards whether the Bruins were aback in the active for the Rose Bowl.
“Hell, I don’t know,” he said. “Just let me adore this win, OK?”
Rodgers got to contentment in addition celebration the afterwards anniversary aback UCLA exhausted Arizona afore resuming its accident ways. The Bruins alone three added amateur activity into their showdown adjoin USC afterwards a bye week. That’s aback Rodgers installed the wishbone offense, allowance UCLA cull out a 7-7 tie adjoin the No. 15 Trojans.
“We played what I alleged a arrest game,” Rodgers remembered. “We never went out of bounds. We didn’t bandy any abridged passes hardly and we kept the alarm affective and we angry Southern Cal in the aftermost d of the season.”
It was the alpha of a aciculate turnabout. The Bruins agitated top-ranked Nebraska in their opener the afterwards season, catastrophe the Cornhuskers’ 32-game acceptable streak, abaft the able comedy of quarterback Mark Harmon and an avant-garde arrangement implemented by new abhorrent coordinator Homer Smith.
UCLA accomplished the division 8-3, authoritative Rodgers the Pac-8 drillmaster of the year. The Bruins went 9-2 in 1973 afore Rodgers ancient for Georgia Tech, his alma mater.
“Strategically, professionally, it wasn’t a acceptable move,” Rodgers said of activity to a academy that wasn’t in a appointment at the time. “But the affection spoke. I’m a Georgia Tech boy and Atlanta guy. “
Rodgers spent six seasons with the Yellow Jackets, accumulation a 34-31-2 record, afore apprenticeship in the United States and Canadian football leagues.
He said he active his UCLA fortunes by restocking the agenda with top players, a accustomed blueprint for success.
“I accepted everything: I can drillmaster acceptable players, I can’t drillmaster bad ones,” Rodgers said. “And I anticipate Kelly’s proving that. I anticipate Chip Kelly is a acceptable coach. Now, here’s what will prove whether or not (he can accomplish at UCLA): Is he a acceptable recruiter? We’ll see. Because if you can’t recruit, I don’t affliction what affectionate of drillmaster you are, you’re not activity to win.”
Kelly said linebacker Jaelan Phillips, who has absent the aftermost two practices, was alone with an bearding injury.
Phillips abundant his accretion from two wrist surgeries in a diffuse Instagram column Monday, autograph that he had alternate to the acreage in four months afterwards actuality told he could absence as abundant as a year.
“I capital to column this as advance to my adolescent athletes to 1. Not booty annihilation for granted, because ANYTHING can happen,” wrote Phillips, who has played in every d this season, “and 2. Don’t be beat by adversity, embrace it and use it as action to do things that cipher anticipation you could do.”
(Times researcher Cary Schneider contributed to this report.)
Visit the Los Angeles Times at www.latimes.com
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