Much has been made of the Bruins’ returning talent this offseason, as they brought in nearly 93% of their contributions last season.
In the end, it was a new face that took the team to an early lead and a one-sided victory over the Rainbow Warriors.
UCLA football (1-0) came out strong against Hawaii (1-0) on Saturday, scoring four first-half touchdowns en route to a 44-10 victory. Three of those four first-half scores came from Michigan running back Zach Charbonnet, who racked up 106 yards on just six carries on his debut with Bruin.
After converting to a basket with a short field, UCLA has scored touchdowns on each of its next four discs. Charbonnet put his team on the board with a score of 21 yards, Brittain Brown took one from a yard, then Charbonnet scored 47 and 21 yards on the next two drives.
Charbonnet made four tackles on the 47-yard player, and he came off in defense long after it looked like he would be stopped before first base. As he proved in training during his first few months at UCLA, Charbonnet had the physique to overcome defense and the intelligence to burst in at the right time.
It was only minutes into the second quarter and the Bruins were leading 31-3, the Rainbow Warriors were out of time and Charbonnet had done all the damage he was going to do all day. Brown, Ethan Fernea and Keegan Jones went their separate ways for the remainder of the game and UCLA won the ground battle 248-26.
Returning starters on the other side of the ball certainly gave Charbonnet, Brown and quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson plenty of chances to succeed, as did the Rainbow Warriors special teams unit.
Hawaii only racked up 51 total yards in the first quarter, stopped fourth three times in the first half, and the Bruins tormented quarterback Chevan Cordeiro in almost every game. Linebackers Caleb Johnson and Bo Calvert, along with defensive end Mitchell Agude, crushed passes and knocked down Cordeiro several times, but it was defensive lineman Datona Jackson who jumped and caught a pass deep in the Rainbow Warrior territory. In the dying minutes of the game, cornerback Jay Shaw made his choice thanks to a deflection from safety DJ Warnell.
A failed punt knelt down and an attempt with a rod later were far from highlights for Hawaii punter Matthew Shipley, but his lowest for the game came on a punt blocked by linebacker Ale Kaho who tight end David Priebe picked up for a touchdown.
In addition to abusing the Hawaii offensive and special teams and beating them 10 times on the ground, UCLA had another lick in the air before putting it in the park for most of it. the second half. Thompson-Robinson finished the first half 4-on-12 with 45 yards, but opened the second with a 4-on-4 practice that ended in a 44-yard bomb to receiver / running back Kazmeir Allen.
In every facet of the game, the Bruins got the better of the Rainbow Warriors.
UCLA has now won its first opener of the season and its first non-conference game of the Chip Kelly era. Next week he will host the No.16 LSU with a chance to surprise and move up to 2-0.
The Bruins have never had two games over 0.500 with Kelly at the helm.