Chip Kelly created one of the most feared offenses in college football when he was at Oregon by relying on the run. During each year of Kelly’s four-year head-coaching tenure, the Ducks ran the ball on more than 60 percent of their offensive plays and led the conference in rushing.
Kelly’s attempt at recreating a similar rushing game to jump-start UCLA’s offense as has fallen well short of expectations so far, but it’s not for lack of trying on the coach’s play-calling effort.
Here’s a look at the play selection for the Bruins through two games, broken down by down and distance to go. Sacks technically go in the stat book as a rushing attempt in college football, but because they’re more often passing plays gone awry, sacks are shown here in a dark shade of blue on the far right of each bar, grouped with the other passing plays. The bars show percentages, not the raw number of times the Bruins have passed or run the ball. Click on the down/distance tabs to view the different graphs.
Kelly tries to establish the run on first down, calling a run play (this includes any swing passes that contribute to the rushing total) about 55.7 percent of the time. However, the commitment to the run isn’t fruitful: Bruins gain just 3.1 yards per carry on first down, a short gain to start a drive that eventually leads to third-and-long situations.
The Bruins average 8.8 yards to go on third down. Kelly has called runs on just one-third of third downs as team is often behind the chains and in obvious passing situations. The opposing defense has responded by tallying five sacks on third downs against UCLA. The Bruins rank 10th in the Pac-12 in third-down conversions.
UCLA averages 4.8 yards per pass play on first down, but most of that was accumulated during the fourth quarter against Oklahoma, when Kelly opened up the playbook against Oklahoma’s backups during the blowout. The Bruins had first-down passes of 45, 22 and 13 yards against the Sooners in the fourth quarter. Discounting first-down passing plays from that quarter, UCLA averages just 1.7 yards per pass attempt (including plays that resulted in sacks) on first down.
Although their overall running game is anemic, the Bruins do have success in short-yardage situations. In their 10 rushing attempt with either goal or between 1 and 3 yards to go, the Bruins either scored the touchdown or converted the first down eight times. Both times they failed, it was near the end zone and they scored on the next play, which was also a run.
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