Hawaii vs. UCLA: Get To Know The Bruins

Hawaii vs. UCLA: Get To Know The Bruins


Hawaii vs. UCLA: Get To Know The Bruins


[jwplayer jF5wU66N-sNi3MVSU]

Hawaii vs. UCLA: Get To Know The Bruins

Can the Warriors upset the Bruins?

Contact/Follow @JeremyMauss & @MWCwire

Who are the Bruins?

Hawaii opens up the season on the road at the Rose Bowl to face the UCLA Bruins. The Warriors are a huge 18-point underdog in this game which seems a bit high given that UCLA was just 3-4 last year and head coach Chip Kelly has not had a winning record in his return to college football.

However, UCLA’s offense seemingly clicked last year and put up a lot of points and there were signs the defense was getting better despite still giving up 30 points per game.

For a closer and more detailed look at this UCLA Bruins team, we chatted with James Williams of the Orange County Register to get his insight as he covers the Bruins team on a daily basis.

1. This is the fourth year of Chip Kelly at UCLA, is there any indication he can turn this team around and get to at least .500 this year?

UCLA cleared a major hurdle last season by getting the program over .500 briefly for the first time since Oct. 21, 2017.

The Bruins have a tough road ahead with six opponents ranked in the AP Top 25 poll preseason on the schedule, including USC, Oregon and LSU. Expectations are high for this season and settling for anything below .500 would be unacceptable.

Hawaii vs. UCLA: Game Preview, Kickoff Time, How to Watch, Odds

2. The offense seemed to play well last year averaging 35 points per game, is that something that will repeat in 2021?

The offense should be able to repeat this level of production. Despite the loss of Demetric Felton, who decided to enter the NFL Draft, the Bruins are set with another stacked backfield that features Brittain Brown and Zach Charbonnet.

QB Dorian Thompson-Robinson must remain healthy and help get the passing game going. His top two targets in receiver Kyle Philips and tight end Greg Dulcich return. Thompson-Robinson said he wants to get the ball to as many people as possible this season.

3. Defensively, the Bruins gave up 30 or more four times last year, so what are the positives of this unit and can they take a step forward? 

The Bruins return all but one starter on defense from 2020, including a veteran secondary.

Assistant head coach and defensive backs coach Brian Norwood joined the staff in 2020, creating change to the defensive scheme that returning players and incoming transfers were asked to learn during a shortened season.

Norwood believes the secondary must clean up any mistakes that may have resulted from limited practice opportunities and come back stronger. The secondary allowed 274 yards per game.

4. Who are a few players that Hawaii should be focusing on?

Thompson-Robinson should be the top priority for Hawaii’s defense because of his ability as a dual-threat quarterback.

If Hawaii can contain Thompson-Robinson, the Rainbow Warriors will have to worry about Brown and Charbonnet. Both have looked impressive and physical throughout the offseason. They will make their presence felt, if given the opportunity.

Caleb Johnson was an immediate impact player for the Bruins on defense leading the team in tackles (44) and sacks (5.5) in 2020, after transferring in from Texas. Johnson may cause even more havoc this season with a full offseason as a Bruin.

5. How do you see this game playing out?

With most of Hawaii’s defense returning, which struggled against the run last season, it could be a long night for the Rainbow Warriors if Brown and Charbonnet have their way.

Hawaii coach Todd Graham could keep things interesting based on his experience in the Pac-12 as the former Arizona State coach and coaching against Kelly. I expect Hawaii to score some points but I don’t think they’ll be able to match the Bruins point for point for very long.

Prediction: 34-21



More MWWire