In a year of transition for many college football programs in 2015 two of the most interesting reside here in the Pac-12. The changes that have curiosity to them in the conference are at Oregon and UCLA. Oregon has the idea that whenever Vernon Adams makes it to campus that he will be the guy behind center. It’s a little different in Westwood. In arguably the toughest division in college football, the Pac-12 South, UCLA appears to like TRUE freshman Josh Rosen to start for them and that could be a great thing or a not so great thing.
Anybody that follows, coaches, or watches football knows that starting young, inexperienced players can be frustrating. They miss blocks, run through the wrong hole, commit penalties, and the list goes on and on. However, the reward is that as they attain that experience through the season they get better and coaches are willing to deal with the mistakes, so that sets them up for the following season with an experienced team. No position on the field is this inexperience more on display than at the quarterback position. It’s a dicey proposition, quarterbacks make the calls at the line, shift protections, change the play, and have to read the defense all in the span of about 10-15 seconds. Having freshman quarterbacks can make a coach look real smart or look like he doesn’t know what he’s doing because he is dealing with a steep learning curve with a young player at quarterback.
Enter Josh Rosen, freshman quarterback at UCLA. He is a true freshman, not a redshirt freshman who has had a year to soak up the play book, learned how to navigate campus and find time to complete their class studies.
At the completion of the 2014 season and seeing long time starter Brett Hundley jump to the NFL most people had the train of thought that Jerry Neuheisel who started in place of Hundley when he was hurt, would be the most logical replacement. Neuheisel certainly has the savvy to take the position, but as they went through spring ball it became apparent that the Bruin coaching staff was going to give Rosen an honest look and reps with the team. If it is indeed Rosen who gets the nod at quarterback, the coaching staff is not giving into the pressure of naming a starting quarterback until the very last minute. Seeing how they are handling Rosen, most people believe it is going to be him.
Rosen wants nothing to do with some big announcement on the topic. He just wants to go out and help his team win. “Honestly, whoever starts, we’re all going to be supremely confident in them because if they win the job, they won the job for a reason. They are going to be the best man for the job.” Rosen said during spring practices.
The last few years the question about the quarterback position have not been an issue because of the steady play of Brett Hundley. Hundley threw for over 9,000 yards, got the Bruins a south division title, two bowl victories, but could not lead the Bruins to their first Pac-12 title since 1998. The next quarterback, probably Josh Rosen gets that task. A daunting one considering the division that they are in is extremely tough, plus the conference overall is a gauntlet of deadly Saturday afternoons.
One thing about Josh Rosen that is sticking out besides all the physical tools is his mental make-up and how he is handling everything that is being thrown at him by the coaches. If he has this great mentality of handling pressure situations, then the Bruins and their fans could be in for a rebirth, but lets pump the brakes on crowning him the “next coming” of quarterback for right now. He still has to be named a starter and take snaps on a Saturday afternoon with an opposing defense that wants to take his head off.
With praise like this from the offensive coordinator, it is no wonder why people around the program expect Josh Rosen to be named the starter at some point in the very near future. Rosen is concentrating on feeling more comfortable each and everyday and has even mentioned Brett Hundley in reference to that feeling of trying to feel comfortable.
“Brett was a starter for three years and I bet, each and everyday, he felt more comfortable.” Rosen explained.
In Westwood, the fans want a conference title, yesterday. They don’t want to feel like the little brother to USC. They want success and they want continued success. For that to happen they need a quarterback that is top level. Is Josh Rosen THAT guy? Is he ready for that responsibility? Time will tell, but by all accounts he wants that pressure on his shoulders. Let’s watch and see…