It was nice to hear, and he appreciated those who brought it up, but UCLA tight end Greg Dulcich wasn’t all that consumed that he led the Pac-12 in receiving yards over the weekend.
Dulcich’s four receptions for 126 yards were one of the few bright spots in the Bruins’ 48-42 loss at Colorado in their Pac-12 and season opener.
“We’re in the business of winning games, so that’s what I’m focused on,” Dulcich said.
UCLA (0-1) is hopeful it will get its next opportunity to win Saturday when it hosts Utah (0-0) at the Rose Bowl at 7:30 p.m.
Utah had its season opener against Arizona canceled because the Utes had multiple players test positive for the coronavirus and the game was declared a no contest. Utah still has several players out due to positive cases and quarantine, but the Utes will continue to test and contact trace during the week in hopes they have enough eligible players Saturday.
After the Bruins committed four first half turnovers and fell behind by 28 points against Colorado, it was Dulcich’s 52-yard catch-and-run burst to the end zone toward the end of first half that was the beginning of 21 unanswered points. Those cut the Buffaloes’ lead to seven early in the second half, but the Bruins could never forge ahead.
“At halftime, we just kept a level head and realized we had to play our game, and the second half we just went out there and did our job,” Dulcich said. “Offensively, I was happy with how we came out, but when you’re down by four turnovers, it’s going to be an uphill battle.”
Dulcich showed his speed on his touchdown reception, pulling away in the open field.
“We were practicing that look all week,” Dulcich said. “They gave it to us, it was just catch and throw, so I was pretty happy how it worked out.”
For Dulcich, it could be a sign of what lies ahead.
The redshirt sophomore was a walk-on wide receiver at UCLA from St. Francis High in La Cañada Flintridge. But he transitioned to tight end last year and earned a scholarship in the spring.
Dulcich added weight to be stronger and more durable, and is listed at 6-4 and 242 pounds.
Last year, Dulcich had eight receptions for 105 yards and a touchdown, so already in just one game, he has more yards than all of last season.
“I’m really pleased with Greg,” Bruins coach Chip Kelly said during a conference call with reporters. “He was like that (stronger) as we went into last spring, even though it a was very, very abbreviated spring.
“He’s a kid that walked on here as a big receiver with the potential to maybe grow into a tight end, and I think he’s really grown into that role. But he also is unique because he still possesses wide receiver speed, so he’s a little bit of a matchup for some people.”
The Bruins’ tight end group is extremely versatile. Sophomore Mike Martinez brings the most game experience, and he had a touchdown reception in Saturday’s loss too. But like many Bruins players and coaches, he has been impressed with Dulich’s growth and the one-two punch they form.
“He poses a disadvantage because he’s really fast,” Martinez said of Dulcich. “He does a good job with his hands and understanding his responsibility on the play, and coming from receiver he also understands everybody else’s routes and all the combos, so that helps him.
“And when it comes to the run game, he always runs his feet and he gets his hands inside and that’s something we can really learn from in our group.”
Kelly also noted that Dulcich brings a different quality.
“He’s not your traditional tight end,” Kelly said. “But he can really run, and we knew going in he would be a weapon for us. I’m excited to see how he grows because his work ethic is off the charts. Losing a talented tight end like Devin Asiasi (to the NFL draft and New England Patriots) last year and to come back with both Mike and Greg back has really been a big punch for us.”