With all the hype over the opening of college football this weekend, one thing I was impressed with was Josh Rosen, freshman quarterback for the UCLA Bruins. Rosen is the so-called “chosen one” by fans, coaches, and media, but he had not taken a snap behind center in college.
If Saturday was any indication, Rosen is heading towards a superstar career in Westwood. Now, it’s only one game, a small sample size, but what he showed the fans at The Rose Bowl stadium was nothing short of amazing for a freshman quarterback. It’s a long season, but nonetheless, the jaws dropping during yesterday’s game with Virginia were real.
While watching Rosen play one thing was impressive for the young QB. His presence and poise in the pocket. He showed a calmness about him that you just don’t see in a college football from a freshman player. I found myself feeling like I was watching a junior or senior quarterback at the Division 1 level. He stood tall in the pocket, and used every part of his 6’4 frame to throw over defenders, around defenders, and every once in a while he would burn a throw right through a defender.
Rosen has the fundamentals that a coach would kill for out of senior quarterback. His feet move smooth and are active in the pocket, his vision downfield was spectacular, his release was quick, and he showed incredible touch when he needed to. There wasn’t anything he could not do yesterday to leave a bad impression with fans, media, and coaches. Bruin Head Coach Jim Mora tried to temper thoughts after the game yesterday.
“Let’s do this, ok?” Mora stated as he pushed down, down, down on the air. “Ok?”
Mora is going to try and calm people down and not let everybody get absolutely nuts with their expectations for Rosen, especially after one game. Good luck with that coach.
Rosen was telling teammates that the game was slower than he thought, he was slapping high fives with teammates, slapping them on their back, and enjoying every moment of his high flying performance. His teammates are already impressed with the young quarterback.
Devin Fuller, who caught a bullet pass from Rosen for the quarterback’s first career passing touchdown said, “A couple of those throws, they were some ‘Wow’ throws.”
Thomas Duarte stated that “Sometimes we’re looking at each other like ok, how did he do that?” Duarte caught a 30 yard touchdown from Rosen during the game.
Offensive Coordinator, Noel Mazzone, was asked about what he learned about Rosen during the game. His answer was pure gold. “Yeah, make sure he’s in the huddle when we play.” If the head coach won’t say it, his offensive coordinator will speak for him and the other coaches with that statement.
Unbelievably, Mazzone ordered that the first pass AND first play of his Bruin career be a deep pass. What happened you ask? Oh, he just threw a perfect 55 yard strike over the shoulder to Kenneth Walker III, but he dropped it. Mazzone was sending a message to his quarterback and his receivers. I think the message was received by both.
“I thought I would get it out of the way…This is your first play in The Rose Bowl, I don’t think it ought to be handing off to somebody.” Noel Mazzone quipped after the game.
I did not see a player who looked like someone who is going to get rattled that much. At all. I heard some media member mention the “H” word. They talked about a Heisman Trophy for a kid who has only played one game. That is a possibility for him, but the bottom line for something like that is that UCLA has to win to be in the conversation.
Nicknamed “Chosen Rosen” by media and fans, he did give the fans hope for the future by completing 28-35 passes for 351 yards, and 3 touchdowns. Is this something that can be continued? Absolutely. Can it all go south on Rosen? Of course. I don’t see it going south on him. He appears to be that type of player that isn’t going to allow that to happen. One thing for sure is that his coaches won’t let it happen to him.
We shall see with week one’s star player. He’s certainly off to a phenomenal beginning, but like I said, it’s only week one. This season goes into December and January and that’s a long way off from the beginning of September. The Rosen ride will be exciting to watch, just be patient fans, he’s still only a freshman.