Following a bye week, the Bruins have begun preparation for their next opponent.
No. 13 UCLA football (2-0) started the season with wins over Hawai’i (1-2) and LSU (1-1) to sit atop the Pac-12 South along with No. 19 Arizona State (2-0) after four of its five division rivals took a loss over the weekend.
Despite winning their first two games – the team’s best start since 2017 – coach Chip Kelly said the Bruins still have many areas to improve upon, which became the focus during their practices last week.
However, Kelly said before practice Monday that the focus this week would shift to the team’s upcoming matchup against Fresno State on Saturday. The Bulldogs are coming off of a 63-10 win over Cal Poly, but enter the matchup as 11-point underdogs.
“We had an improvement week last week and I thought they were great,” Kelly said. “This will be our first real jump in at everything Fresno in terms of our preparation, but the energy was good in meetings and we’re looking forward to training today.”
Senior quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson – who is coming off the highest-ranked victory of his collegiate career – said he specifically used the bye week to work on staying focused heading into the matchup against Fresno State.
“(I was) really into my assignment, my technique, and really focusing on being a better quarterback like I’ve always been trying to do,” Thompson-Robinson said.
Thompson-Robinson has connected with eight different receivers so far this season, including redshirt junior wide receiver Kazmeir Allen, who is tied for the team lead with four receptions and is second on the team with 92 receiving yards on the season.
Allen, whose hometown of Tulare, California is just 46.1 miles south of Fresno, California, said he will face several of his former high school teammates and closest friends Saturday,
“I talked to a few of them last week,” Allen said. “It’s all been jokes, but at the same time, we try to win.”
Climbing the rankings
The Bruins moved up the polls despite not playing a game last week.
Following the victory over LSU, UCLA was ranked in the AP Top 25 and USA TODAY Sports AFCA Coaches Poll for the first time in four years, taking over the No. 16 spot on both lists.
The Bruins moved up three spots in both rankings Sept. 12 thanks in part to three losses from teams that were previously ranked, including a win from fellow Pac-12 contender No. 4 Oregon. At No. 13, UCLA is ranked the highest it has been in either poll since early in the 2015 season.
The Bruins also came out on top off the field. On Sunday, U.S. News and World Report released its annual college rankings for 2022. UCLA ranked as the top public school in the country for the fifth consecutive year, something Kelly said the team takes great pride in.
“When you graduate from here, the degree you get will open up a ton of doors for you,” Kelly said. “It’s something that I think our players here take a lot of pride in, and I think the recruits that we’re recruiting take a lot of pride in that.”