Saturday wasn’t just a bad day for UCLA, it was downright disastrous. Not only did the Bruins drop their season opener to Cincinnati, they also saw starting quarterback Wilton Speight exit the game with a back injury.
It’s the latter that may have the largest impact on Saturday’s game against Oklahoma. If Speight isn’t good to go then it sets up freshman Dorian Thompson-Robinson to make his first collegiate start.
A grad transfer, from Michigan, Speight was a non-participant in Monday’s practice but by Wednesday he was throwing stationary passes. Still not being a participant in the full-speed/contact portion through three days of practice doesn’t necessarily mean Speight won’t be good to go, according to UCLA head coach Chip Kelly.
“I don’t have a rule that you have to do this or that, it’s just, I don’t think anybody’s going to be successful if they don’t have a week of practice and understand the game plan,” Kelly said Monday. “If that was the case, then no one should practice.”
It’s not only a question of health for Speight, but also a question of preparedness. Would a Thursday walk-through practice be enough to prepare Speight for an Oklahoma defense that didn’t allow Florida Atlantic to score against their starting unit?
The flip-side of that question is, does a freshman give UCLA a greater chance of winning over a grad transfer who isn’t 100%? If Kelly knows the answer to that he’s not tipping his hand on it.
“I don’t worry about things we don’t control,” Kelly said on Wednesday, “so we practice who’s available to practice and get ready to go play a game.”