It wasn't the sellout crowds at Autzen Stadium or Pac-12 championships for Oregon that Chip Kelly realized he missed the most when he returned to college.
"It's the day-to-day stuff, the meetings and studying film with a purpose rather than just watching film," the new UCLA coach said during a conference call on Monday. "Getting ready to play against good teams in our conference and obviously our out-of-conference schedule is challenging, so that's been the fun part."
After four seasons in the NFL and one at ESPN, Kelly is back in the Pac-12 where he won conference titles from 2009-11 with the Ducks. Kelly replaced Jim Mora, who went 10-15 over the past two years at UCLA, including a 6-12 mark in conference play.
"I can't compare us to anyone else in the league because I haven't seen anyone else in the league," Kelly said.
True to form, Kelly hasn't been very open about his plans with UCLA. He has done only a couple of interview sessions with the media. UCLA's website still lists the 2017 roster.
"I think it's about adapting what you do schematically to the players you have," Kelly said. "You can run really cool plays, but if you don't have the right personnel to run those plays, you won't be very successful. It's all about trying to match what our players can do and put them in position to make plays."
Kelly needs to find a quarterback after Josh Rosen was selected in the first round by the Arizona Cardinals. The leading candidate is Wilton Speight, a grad transfer from Michigan who won't arrive on campus until the summer. Freshman Dorian Thompson-Robinson will compete for the spot in the fall, and sophomore Devon Modster was the No. 1 guy during spring football.
Starting running backs Soso Jamabo and Bolu Olorunfunmi return, along with UC Davis transfer Joshua Kelley, but the Bruins must replace two linemen who were taken in the NFL draft. The Bruins have eight returning starters on defense.
Kelly is one of three new coaches in the division and five in the conference. Arizona State hired Herm Edwards, who like Kelly most recently worked at ESPN and coached in the NFL, and Arizona brought in Kevin Sumlin, who was fired at Texas A&M.
"Styles of teams may change a bit, but a lot of guys in this league have been other places and a lot of assistants who have been other places too," Sumlin said. "The difficult part is video and film can only tell you so much. It's really on the field when you start to get a feel for what the league is like, and that won't happen until you go out and play."
Defending conference champion USC will be the favorite to win the South for the third time in four years. The Trojans face Arizona in September, Arizona State in October, and UCLA to wrap up conference play in November.
"The good news is you have three nonconference games, and we have five games before we face one of the new coaches," USC coach Clay Helton said. "That allows you to do some studying of what goes on early in the season. It's not just the head coach, you have to do a good job studying the coordinators they hired and the system they bring with them."