UCLA gets taste of the HBCU experience

PASADENA, Calif. (News4usonline) – The final score of the Alabama StateUCLA non-conference college football game played at the Rose Bowl Stadium in Pasadena was a lot closer than what the final outcome indicates. Yes, the Bruins did score 31 points in the first half on their way to posting an eventual 45-7 home win for the team’s second victory of the season.

It was a lot tougher than it looked. UCLA head coach Chip Kelly said he conveyed to his players they could not afford to overlook any team on their schedule.

Alabama State University quarterback Myles Crawley (7) scrambles for yardage against UCLA in a college football game played at the Rose Bowl Stadium in Pasadena, California on Sept. 10, 2022. Photo by Dennis J. Freeman/News4usonline

“Well, I think that in college football, you only get 12,” Kelly remarked. “And you better take advantage of all of them. I was just told coming in here that there were a lot of upsets today in college football. I don’t think you can look past anybody. You’ve really got to keep your focus on what it is and savor it. It’s a unique sport.”

Putting away the Hornets, a team that plays in the SWAC Conference, was a little more than complicated. Alabama State, an acclaimed HBCU (historically black college and university), didn’t melt away just because they were playing football in Southern California. The Hornets showed a lot of grit and moxie in going up against the Bruins.

Behind the timely passing of quarterback Myles Crawley (16 of 27 for 177 yards, TD), Alabama State managed to generate over 300 yards in total offense against UCLA and was able to move up and down the field at times with relative ease. Alabama State head coach Eddie Robinson Jr., in postgame remarks, said he liked what his offense did on the football field.

“Early on our offense was moving pretty good, and I think skill-wise that’s usually where we can compete with those guys. Once you start getting into the bigger guys and the back-ups, that’s where it catches up with you,” Robinson said.

Kelly was impressed by Crawley and the Hornets’ passing game, which dialed up 223 yards through the air.

UCLA running back Keegan Jones (22) with the rush against Alabama State University on Sept. 10, 2022. Photo by Dennis J. Freeman/News4usonline

“I think that they did a nice job with their slow mesh RPO [run pass option] game,” Kelly said. “I don’t know if it was specifically secondary breakdowns. I thought that their quarterback was really accurate. They tried to suck you up a little bit with the run and then throw the ball over the top. But I thought the ball was accurate and they did a nice job. It wasn’t like anybody was wide open.”

As spectacular as Alabama State’s passing game looked at times against the Bruins, the Hornets had a much more difficult time moving the football on the ground. UCLA held Alabama State to just 87 yards rushing total for the game. UCLA linebacker Bo Calvert said the Bruins used a combination of things to slow the Hornets on the ground.

UCLA defensive back Sephan Blaylock (4) making the tackle on an Alabama State ballcarrier on Sept. 10, 2022. Photo by Dennis J. Freeman/News4usonline

“I think we did a good job of getting after the quarterback, setting edges, coming downhill,” Calvert said. “Obviously rotated a lot, had a lot of guys in the game, so being able to share the love was the best thing about today, just seeing guys come in that aren’t able to be in the spotlight as much. Seeing those guys make plays was awesome.”