It was the kind of mismatch the place UCLA’s backups figured to play.
Simply not earlier than halftime.
If one regarded solely on the remaining rating — UCLA 45, Alabama State 7 — they could have thought the Bruins’ first recreation towards a Soccer Championship Subdivision opponent of their 103-year historical past went in line with script.
Not a lot.
UCLA’s major protagonists Saturday afternoon on the Rose Bowl included some sudden names due to a couple of notable absences.
Star working again Zach Charbonnet didn’t play for undisclosed causes, giving Keegan Jones the beginning nod. Veteran quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson left early within the second quarter with an obvious ankle harm, forcing Ethan Garbers into the sport.
The second-stringers have been principally first-rate.
Jones logged the Bruins’ opening factors, conserving his legs churning on a two-yard landing run. Garbers accomplished 11 of his first 12 passes. Operating backs T.J. Harden, Christian Grubb and Colson Yankoff confirmed some sturdiness as UCLA relied closely on its floor recreation within the second half.
With the Bruins (2-0) comfortably on their solution to a fifth consecutive victory going again to final season — their longest stretch of sustained success beneath coach Chip Kelly — the sport’s remaining 20 minutes belonged to third- and fourth-stringers.
“Being able to share the love, I think, was the best thing about today,” UCLA linebacker Bo Calvert mentioned. “Just being able to see guys come in that aren’t able to be in the spotlight as much, to be able to see those guys make plays was awesome.”
In one other twist, it was a rout stuffed with comeback tales.
There was Laiatu Latu, the UCLA linebacker who logged two sacks and compelled a fumble in solely his second recreation after a medical retirement within the spring of 2021 due to a neck harm whereas taking part in for Washington.
“To bounce back from that and deal with such a serious injury, something that obviously sets your life and spins you 180 [degrees], and then be able to just keep working every day and find the path, find your way and now he’s playing at UCLA and making tons of plays,” Calvert mentioned, “ … I’m so happy to see him making plays out there again.”
There was Yankoff, the quarterback-turned-receiver-turned-running again whose profession had been beset by a foot harm, tallying 35 yards in six carries, together with a powerful 19-yard run by which he put his 230 kilos to good use by bowling over defenders.
“I have seen Colson come a long way with these injuries, switching positions,” Bruins tight finish Hudson Habermehl mentioned, “so it’s really cool to see him get in there and really make some big plays.”
Lastly, there was Grubb, the redshirt junior who had toiled in anonymity whereas recovering from a torn Achilles and being buried on the depth chart, bursting forward for 55 yards in his first seven carries as a Bruin.
“It was good to see the Grubber get out there and do some things,” Kelly mentioned.
UCLA’s floor recreation, which had largely been a one-man present with Charbonnet within the opener, tallied 220 yards and 5 touchdowns. Harden, a real freshman, ran for 56 yards and a landing, yielding a strong eight yards per carry. Jones was a two-way menace, working for 33 yards and hauling in 4 catches for 31 yards.
Kelly wouldn’t touch upon the statuses of Charbonnet or Thompson-Robinson after the sport, saying solely they have been each “unavailable.”
Thompson-Robinson accomplished 9 of 11 passes for 101 yards and a landing on a 25-yard move to Habermehl earlier than his departure early within the second quarter. Going through heavy stress on third and 11, Thompson-Robinson appeared to harm himself on a play by which he flipped the ball to Jones for an 18-yard acquire.
There was little drop-off with Garbers, who ran for 2 touchdowns and accomplished 14 of 18 passes for 164 yards. His solely misstep got here on an ugly interception on the Alabama State aim line.
“You know, he’s going to want that one back,” Kelly mentioned.
Alabama State (2-1) gained decisively in a single division — the battle of the bands. The high-stepping, slippery strikes and excellent choreography of the Mighty Marching Hornets elicited a standing ovation from the gang of 33,727 that was noticeably larger than the report low UCLA had drawn in its opener final week in insufferable warmth.
The Hornets discovered some success transferring the ball, producing 310 yards of offense, however dedicated three turnovers. UCLA defensive backs Jaylin Davies and D.J. Justice every had an interception, Justice’s going for a touchback and saving a doable landing.
Davies, a switch from Oregon, figures to be in for some ribbing this week after he ran again his interception 46 yards however was introduced down within the open subject by Keeundra Salter, Alabama State’s 305-pound offensive deal with.
“He’s got to make that cut inside,” Calvert mentioned of his teammate with a smile. “That’s just one-on-one with a tackle, I mean you got to get a little bit of jukes in there.”
The Bruins made the strikes they wanted to towards 48½-point underdogs, sidestepping drama amid sudden setbacks.