UCLA fans had wondered all week whether junior quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson and several others would returned from COVID-19 protocols after missing the previous two games after to two players tested positive for the coronavirus and contact tracing led to others having to serve a Pac-12 mandated 14-day quarantine.
Felton, who had thrown for 499 yards and seven touchdowns and rushed for 161 yards and two touchdowns during the first two games of the season, indeed returned and led the Bruins to a 17-3 halftime lead, which included a nine-yard TD pass to Delon Hurt, and an 11-yard touchdown run with 30 seconds to go in the half.
Redshirt freshman quarterback Chase Griffin had started the previous two games in Thompson-Robinson’s absence and did a fine job, but clearly the Bruins’ wanted their experienced signal caller back, and he completed 11 of 15 passes for 128 yards and also rushed for 45 yards in the opening 30 minutes.
The other surprise was that junior running back Demetric Felton, who ranked eighth nationally in rushing yards per game (134.2) entering Saturday’s game, did not start the Bruins’ first series.
Felton appeared to injure himself late in the fourth quarter of last week’s win against Arizona, but when Bruins coach Chip Kelly was asked about Felton’s injury status on Monday, he said the Bruins’ all-purpose back was fine and was practicing, but there was no word prior to kickoff why he didn’t start. Felton only had four carries for 12 yards in the first half.
.UCLA, USC NEXT SATURDAY?
The USC-UCLA rivalry is scheduled next Saturday at the Rose Bowl, but the time hasn’t been determined yet.
Los Angeles County’s stay-at-home orders so far have not impacted practices or games for USC or UCLA, and USC is scheduled to play Washington State on Sunday at the Coliseum at 4:30 p.m.
USC and Washington State were originally supposed to play on Friday night, but USC had its game a week earlier against Colorado cancelled due to COVID-19 positive tests within the USC program that left the Trojans without enough offensive lineman on scholarship to play against Colorado due to contact tracing.
Because of that, the USC-Washington State game was moved to Sunday to give the Trojans the necessary time for players to return from coronavirus protocols.
Because USC is playing Sunday, UCLA coach Chip Kelly was asked this week if the annual rivalry game could possibly moved from Saturday to Sunday or even a couple days back to allow the Trojans to have more time to prepare.
Kelly noted that UCLA had its game against Cal earlier in the season moved to Sunday and that it played Oregon on the following Saturday.
“I’ve had no discussion,” Kelly said of that possibility. “I know we have played on a shortened week for the Cal game, but I haven’t had any discussion with anybody on that. In COVID, what I’ve learned is we are usually the last to know. They just tell us what to do.
“I don’t think anybody is asking us what we should be or shouldn’t be doing, and that is fine with me.”
PLAYERS DO NOT HAVE TO REDSHIRT
When a reporter reminded Kelly that Saturday’s game against ASU was the Bruins’ fifth game and that any players that play a fifth game are usually not eligible to use the season as a redshirt to gain an extra year of eligibility, Kelly dismissed it, noting that every player in college football will essentially have a “red-shirt” year due to the coronavirus.
“That redshirt goes in a file this year,” Kelly said. “This year doesn’t count for anybody. Anybody, whatever their status is right now will have their status when we go back to the fall is the way we understand it. So, there’s no conversation about four games, five games. The four-game rule doesn’t exist.”