Alexander: UCLA’s Chase Griffin steps up and almost delivers an upset

Is it feasible that the grand L.A. custom of a quarterback controversy could be roiling UCLA’s follower base today?

Possibly not, to be straightforward. The Bruins’ results over the last few years haven’t provided themselves to the type of follower enthusiasm needed for that kind of conflict. And also the backup, Chase Lion, really did not win Saturday, though he as well as his teammates awaited rather a bit longer than prepared for against No. 11 Oregon in Eugene.

Ethical triumphes do not count. Yet the Bruins did frighten Oregon, in a 38-35 loss in Autzen Arena, as well as they effectively might have ruined any longshot hope the Ducks and also their followers might have had of a berth in the College Football Playoff, hanging in there throughout and refuting Oregon the type of style points it would probably need to offset the Pac-12’s (a) lessened national profile and (b) reduced 2020 timetable.

UCLA’s instructors and gamers also discovered a great deal concerning what they have in Lion, a redshirt fresher who was propelled into the starter’s function against the Ducks when younger Dorian Thompson-Robinson was scraped as a result of COVID contact tracing issues. He did not humiliate himself in all in his first university begin.

Griffin, that was birthed in Santa Monica– UCLA Santa Monica Medical Facility, to be specific– however expanded up in Round Rock, Texas, won the competition to be the backup quarterback in the weeks leading up to this season, as well as he got the word late in the week to be prepared. So he entered into a tough place to play– though much less tough without followers than it would certainly be with a capacity– and also hit 12 of his very first 14 pass attempts, brought the Bruins back from a very early 14-0 deficiency and kept them within striking distance to the end while completing 19 of 31 passes for 195 backyards and a touchdown, matching Demetric Felton’s 176 hurrying lawns and two scores.

“Chase is a gamer,” Felton said in the postgame video conference. “He’s truly awesome, tranquil and also collected. So, you understand, absolutely nothing truly changed for me. And, you understand, I trusted him and also I recognize he’s going to do his best. So I’m exceptionally happy of him as well as simply all set to see what’s next for him.”

There were rough places for the rookie, two interceptions and a lost fumble, although the pick-six at the end of the very first half that Jordan Happle returned 58 lawns for an Oregon goal was type of a fluky play. On third-and-6 play from his very own 44, at the end of the fifty percent with the Bruins’ holding an unexpected 21-17 lead, Lion was attempting a Hailstorm Mary heave to the end zone for a pointer or a fortunate bounce, yet he was hit as he tossed and the sphere popped right up as well as fell under Happle’s arms.

The play offered the Ducks a 24-21 halftime edge, and the Bruins would certainly never lead once again.

“I recognize in Pac-12 video games you need as numerous points as you can (obtain),” instructor Chip Kelly stated. “Not Chase’s fault. He was trying to do everything he could.”

Twice in the 2nd half Oregon rose by 10, two times Lion brought the Bruins back within a basket, and also he as well as his violation got the ball back with 1:17 to play, reached the Oregon 39 thanks to a roughing the passer charge, yet couldn’t quite draw it off.

Griffin did address one concern right away.

“Everybody desires a chance,” Kelly stated. “And also when you get a chance, are you prepared? As well as I thought Chase did a hell of a job today. … … Chase had never ever played, so no person really knew what you were going to get. However I was really happy of what he did today.”

So was Thompson-Robinson, who tweeted his support throughout the video game and also concluded with, “So honored of this group! Much more happy with @ChaseQB11 as well as this infraction! #GoBruins.”

“Dorian has actually been fantastic all week,” Griffin said. “He prepares tough weekly. And previously in the week, we were preparing as if he would be the starter. When we learnt that he wasn’t, he sent me a number of messages, you understand, keeping my spirit right, maintaining my mind right, providing me some practical recommendations.

“And also I’m really happy for the entire quarterback space. I think we appeared today. I can, obviously, be much better and also we’ll go from there.”

No, there likely will not be a quarterback controversy in Westwood, a minimum of for now. When Thompson-Robinson is cleared to play, he’ll play. He’s a junior, he’s the incumbent, and also he hasn’t actually done anything to lose the work. Yet Saturday was a sign that (a) the Bruins can trust Griffin, and (b) there could be an intense future there.

But did this experience help position Lion for future success, or at the very least give him a layout off of which to function? Don’t ask.

“I’m not truly concentrated on that,” he claimed. “We’ve obtained a game following week. We obtained film testimonial tomorrow and stretch. And I’m going to see to it that after this plane ride home, we awaken in the early morning, be ready to prepare ourselves for the following week, placed this video game to bed, which’s as for my range actually is getting to right now.”

He doesn’t have to believe concerning what it did for his future, but his instructors likely have. Saturday may have been a loss for the Bruins, but it was an extra efficient journey than a lot of us expected.

jalexander@scng.com!.?.! @Jim_Alexander on Twitter

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