On Wednesday, running back Bolu Olorunfunmi was added to the list of Bruins players set to miss playing time due to concussion concerns. Olorunfunmi, who will sit out for the rest of the 2018 season, was the third player this week reportedly being ruled out for the remainder of the 2018 season by head coach Chip Kelly.
Earlier this week, Kelly announced starting linebacker Jaelan Phillips and running back Soso Jamabo were out due to their own head injury concerns.
Olorunfunmi was UCLA’s leading rusher in 2017 with 565 yards and five touchdowns. Jamabo was the second-leading rusher for the Bruins after appearing in 10 games with 446 yards and a team-high six rushing touchdowns a year ago. The 2018 season has been quite a different year for both senior running backs. Jamabo has appeared in just three games with five rushing attempts for 12 yards, and Olorunfunmi has appeared in all six games with 31 rushing attempts for 85 yards; he is also tied for the most rushing touchdowns for UCLA with four this season.
Phillips appeared in four games for the Bruins, in which he recorded 20 total tackles and one sack this season. Phillips had been listed as UCLA’s starter at outside linebacker, with redshirt freshman Odusa Isibor listed as his backup at the position. Redshirt sophomore Mique Juarez has been listed as the other backup outside linebacker on the UCLA depth chart this season.
With more attention and care given to head injuries around the football world, it is not surprising to see players have to cut their seasons short, and the losses on the depth chart can never come at a good time for any program. Losing three players in the same week is especially difficult as Kelly is looking to finally build off the team’s first win of the season.
UCLA hosts Arizona this week in Pac-12 play. The Wildcats will be without starting quarterback Khalil Tate.
A week after losing at home to Cincinnati, things were expected to not go particularly well for UCLA on the road at Oklahoma. Despite putting the first points on the scoreboard in the first quarter, Oklahoma has taken control of the game with a 21-point run to take a 21-7 lead into halftime in Norman, Oklahoma. Unfortunately, injuries have been a part of the story of the first half for both teams.
Oklahoma running back Rodney Anderson walked off the sidelines with trainers at the end of the first quarter after initially being examined on the sideline. The injury appeared to occur at the end of a 10-yard run on the first play of the second quarter. One play later, Kyler Murray kept an option to run for a touchdown and a 21-7 lead. The injury to Anderson appeared to be the right knee.
UCLA linebacker Jaelen Phillips also had to be taken in for some medical attention in the second quarter. As if UCLA’s defense did not already have its hands full with the Sooners, the loss of one of its top defensive players would not make things any better in the second half.
UCLA running back Bolu Olorunfunmi opened the scoring on UCLA’s second possession of the game with a short touchdown run to cap an 80-yard drive over seven plays, but the Sooners responded in a hurry. Anderson had his own short touchdown run on the third play of a 12-yard drive thanks to a big kick return by Tre Brown after UCLA’s score. Oklahoma took the lead four minutes later on a Kyler Murray 58-yard touchdown pass to Marquise Brown. Murray would add to the lead on with his touchdown run.
UCLA is hanging around with some good plays, but the offense must get going if they are going to put the Big 12 favorites on upset alert.
UCLA is playing without quarterback Josh Rosen, who hurt his shoulder in a game last week against Arizona State. With Rosen out of action, the Bruins have been running the offense with Mike Fafaul. With Rosen out of the game, it has been up to the Bruins defense to keep this one within reach. Through one half, they have done that despite trailing Washington State by a score of 10-0 at the halftime break.
Washington State has been riding high the past few weeks with big wins against Stanford and Oregon, but the offense has been off the mark at times against the Bruins tonight. Luke Falk has passed for 125 yards but has struggled to get in a rhythm and has been picked off once. That interception came in the end zone (UCLA’s Jayon Brown came up with it). The only touchdown of the first half was scored by Gerard Wicks from the goal line for the Cougars.
UCLA’s offense has been locked down by Washington State as well. The Bruins have rushed for just 16 yards as a team, with Bolu Olorunfunmi leading the team with nine rushing yards on seven carries. UCLA is just one for six on third downs too.
The first half has been far from pretty, but fortunately, most people were probably too invested in a few other games going on at the same time (Ohio State and Wisconsin in overtime, for example). But we are now entering Pac-12 After dark territory, where anything can happen in the second half.