A Look At Utah Football’s 2023 Football Opponents: UCLA Bruins

SALT LAKE CITY – Spring ball is over, and the summer months are upon us making it a great time to take an early look at Utah football’s 2023 opponents.

Week four is when Utah will get into their conference play hosting the UCLA Bruins after welcoming in Weber State the week before to close out their out-of-conference schedule. In what could very well be the last meeting between the Utes and Bruins as UCLA moves to the Big Ten in 2024, expect both sides to want to leave the other with the parting gift of a big “L”.

Last year, UCLA got the better of Utah after going 0-5 against them since 2016, 42-32 with quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson and running back Zach Charbonnet leading the way. The Bruins will be traveling to Salt Lake City without those weapons in 2023 while on paper Utah’s defense looks to be better equipped to handle whatever they may throw at them.

The When And Where Of UCLA Vs. Utah

When: Saturday, September 23

Where: Rice-Eccles Stadium, Salt Lake City, Utah

Time: TBD

Network: TBD

What We Know About UCLA Heading Into 2023

UCLA kept their spring practices under lock and key according to this LA Times article. Head coach Chip Kelly wasn’t playing around during the Bruins’ final spring practices as a member of the Pac-12 conference, leaving some mystery as to what exactly can be expected of the powder blue and gold come fall.

UCLA has an interesting decision to make in regard to replacing DTR who was picked up in the fifth round of the 2023 NFL Draft by the Cleveland Browns. Do they go with Thompson-Robinson’s tried and true backup quarterback Ethan Garbers? Or do they roll the dice with their highest rated quarterback recruit ever in Dante Moore despite his youth?

So far, coach Kelly (at least publicly) insists he and his staff have not even discussed what their quarterback depth chart looks like meaning we likely won’t know what direction they are going until at least fall camp and maybe longer.

Another Important, New Face

Not only will UCLA have a new look under-center, but their defense will likely look different too under new defensive coordinator D’Anton Lynn. Lynn comes to the Bruins from the Baltimore Ravens and is looking to instill some aggression and swagger to UCLA’s defense that has sometimes been lacking under Chip Kelly’s tenure.

Will this new defensive identity be in full swing by the time the Bruins take the field in Salt Lake? We will certainly be finding out.

Depth In The Trenches

By the sounds of it, UCLA was thin at offensive line during their spring practices. It also sounds like they were/are waiting on a few guys who weren’t going to be there till summer workouts or fall camp. Still, the impression given is that the Bruins might be cutting it a little close on depth and as we all know, games are won in the trenches.

It also doesn’t help UCLA’s case that they are replacing three of five starters from last season after they moved on to the NFL.

Expectations For UCLA According To One Outlet

According to Saturday Blitz writer Connor Muldowney the Bruins should be a pretty good team in 2023, but likely not a great team with some of the offensive production they have to replace and some uncertainty about how much better the defense will be.

Muldowney predicts UCLA will go 8-4 with likely losses against USC, Utah, and Oregon State.

Michelle Bodkin is the Utah Utes Insider for KSLsports.com and host of both the Crimson Corner Podcast (SUBSCRIBE) and The Saturday Show (Saturday from 10 a.m.–12 p.m.) on The KSL Sports Zone. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram: @BodkinKSLsports