At the Casey Wasserman Football Center in Westwood, excitement builds for the upcoming 2021 season. After the pandemic shortened the season to just seven games, the Bruins finished 3-4.
Optimism began to peak it’s way through the program, but two late season losses to crosstown rival USC and an overtime loss to Stanford began raising eyebrows on the Chip Kelly experiment, one that was highly talked about when he was hired prior to the 2018 season.
Thankfully, the Bruins have a nice chunk of production returning including senior quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson who comes off one of the most efficient seasons of his career where he completed 65 percent of his passes for 224 yards, tossing 12 touchdowns.
Also back in the fold is running back Brittain Brown after rushing for over 500 yards averaging 6.63 yards per carry. Brown addressed reporters about the team’s goals for the upcoming year and wants to use last season as their jump point.
“The team’s really been itching to get back on the field. We’ve been getting our schoolwork, getting settled in with academics and everything. The late start (is) definitely different – first time I’ve started this late for spring ball – but this format is going to be a little bit better for all the guys.”
Defensively, Qwuantrezz Knight leads the Bruins secondary where he was third on the team in tackles with 40 and registered a career-high nine against the Trojans.
Knight explained to reporters about a mantra Coach Kelly has instilled in the team this offseason. A simple sign in the locker room that reads “15”.
“We have this thing across the locker room, ‘15,’ Knight said. “Fifteen is a huge number to us because we were 15 points from being undefeated. And when we look at that sign every day, that’s our drive, that’s our push, our motivation to be great. Just looking at that sign.”
Brown and Knight both return for their sixth years of eligibility respectively as a result of an extra year that was granted to student-athletes due to the pandemic.
Additionally, Kelly’s squad picked up a plethora of newcomers thanks to the transfer portal.
The Bruins picked up SoCal native, running back Zach Charbonnet, a transfer out of the University of Michigan where in two seasons he rushed for 850 yards and found the endzone 12 times in 18 games wearing the maize and blue.
The quarterback room also got a little bigger with the entrance of Ethan Garbers, who starred locally at Corona del Mar and transferred in from Washington.
UCLA is scheduled to meet on the practice field 15 times through May 27 which will culminate in the annual spring game at the Rose Bowl.
The Bruins open the 2021 season at home on Saturday August 28, when they host Hawai’i out of the Mountain West Conference.