The Fall and Rise and Fall of Rosen — UCLA falls to 3-3 despite 400 passing yards by Josh Rosen, as Arizona State knocks him out of the game twice, including in the final minutes, and holds on for a 23-20 victory
UCLA Quarterback Josh Rosen showed toughness, grit, and talent on Saturday night, coming back into the game in the Third Quarter after getting taken into the locker room in the Second Quarter, and after watching the start of the 3rd on the sidelines with a headset on.
With the Bruins trailing by 10 in the 3rd, Rosen came back in, and overcame a horrible First Half by the Bruin Offense, to put together two scoring drives and tie the game at 13. Rosen ended up with 400 yards passing and 2 TD’s, but it wasn’t enough as ASU went on to win 23-20.
The First Half was all Defense, as no one could convert Third Downs, so it was almost all punts for both sides. Each team made one Field Goal, and UCLA’s J.J. Molson(-Goatin’) MISSED two Field Goals, from 46 and 49 yards. It wasn’t that he didn’t have the leg — Both of them had the distance, but missed wide. That 6 points was the difference between losing by 3 and winning by 3.
UCLA’s Offense in the First Half couldn’t do anything right. The Offensive Line couldn’t open a single hole for Nate Starks to run through, and they couldn’t protect Rosen, who had little time to throw, and got beat up badly, eventually getting taken in to the locker room in the middle of the 2nd Quarter. Mike Fafaul came in to replace him, and was completely ineffective. Not all his fault, as just like when Josh was in, the Line couldn’t do their job, and neither could the Receivers, who were REALLY not on the same page with Fafaul.
At least the Bruin Defense was getting the job done. ASU had a Second String QB playing, and he really sucked. The Bruins were able to key on the run, and totally shut it down. And the Secondary didn’t allow the green QB to exploit them at all. At Halftime, it was 3-3, and it felt like even with Fafaul in, the Bruins were in good shape.
But in the Second Half, the Sun Devils started moving the ball. The Bruins allowed ASU’s star Receiver to get open and make plays. The Sun Devils got up by 10, and after Rosen came back in and shined heroically, tying it up, the Devils scored again to make it 20-13. They added another FG to make it 23-13, as the Bruin Defense seemed to be running out of gas.
Rosen wouldn’t quit, though. Despite being in obvious pain, he led the Bruins to another TD. He had help putting up these 17 Second Half points, specifically from Soso Jamabo (66-yard reception), Austin Roberts (106 yards Receiving), Jordan Lasley (52-yard TD catch), and Nate Iese (18-yard TD catch). The Iese TD cut the ASU lead to 3, and then Adarius Pickett Intercepted a ball thrown by ASU’s THIRD String QB, in the end zone, giving the Bruins a good chance to tie or win, with about 3 minutes left.
Rosen started out well, but the drive stalled, and Rosen got re-injured. Fafaul had a couple of chances to pull off a Neuheisel-like miracle, but the O-Line couldn’t give him enough time, and he was too inexperienced to avoid the rush. On two key plays, he seemed to lack the field sense/awareness, and he allowed himself to be sacked instead of scrambling away from the pressure to at least give himself a chance. Then, on his very last play, he did get away from the rush to get a pass off, but it was Intercepted to end the game.
The fact that the Bruins weren’t able to do anything in the First Half, against a lackluster Defense, falls on the head of Offensive Coordinator Kennedy Polamalu, who still can’t design any effective misdirection plays, or do ANYTHING that surprises the opposition. His runs are slow-developing and useless, and he doesn’t do enough to counteract the Defensive pressure on the QB. Sure Rosen still aired it out for 400 yards, but without his personal wizardry — when a mortal was at the helm — Polamalu’s Offense was dreadful. Besides the drops (and penalties) that continue to plague his unit, when Fafaul was in, the Receivers weren’t running to the spots where Fafaul was throwing. This seems like a Coaching problem. His overall scheme is just so much worse than what we saw from his predecessor Noel Mazzone (who was no wizard himself), it’s a mystery why Coach Mora doesn’t do something about it. The Buffalo Bills were sucking this year, so they fired the Offensive Coordinator, and are undefeated since. Now it’s up to Mora to pull the trigger on a similar move.
But the real mystery is how badly Rosen is injured. The Bruins travel to Washington State next week. The Cougars blew out Stanford on Saturday, so it looks like if Rosen is unavailable, the Cougs will cruise again… unless a new Coach is calling the plays for UCLA.
Speaking of mystery, there is no mystery as to what the best part of going to a UCLA game is this year. Here are 44 more answers to that mystery.