Josh the Virgin(ia)-Killer — True Freshman QB Josh Rosen is more of a surgeon than a virgin in his first college game ever, as he slices up the Cavaliers for 351 passing yards and 3 passing TD’s, leading UCLA to a convincing 34-16 opening day victory
Remove the question mark, and insert an exclamation point.
All Summer long, analysts have been saying the #13 Bruins COULD be good this season, depending on their big True Freshman “question mark” at the Quarterback position. Well, the question has now been answered: Josh Rosen is the Real Deal, with poise beyond his years, and talent beyond belief.
Rosen started the game with a bomb, that hit speedy Receiver Kenny Walker right in the hands. Unfortunately, the defender swiped his arm close to the ball, and that was just enough of a distraction to keep Walker from gathering it in for a Touchdown. This did not deter Rosen, who completed his next 7 passes, on his way to 28/35 for 351 yards and 3 Touchdowns, as UCLA goes to 1-0 by spanking Virginia 34-16… and it wasn’t that close. A late Cavalier score against a relaxed Bruin second string made the final score a little more respectable for the Cavs, who actually ended up keeping the Bruins from covering the 19-point spread.
Actually, a miscommunication which led to a bad snap in Rosen’s final series cost UCLA the points that would have made their backers winners in Vegas. Between the dropped TD pass on their first snap, the bad snap, and a near-miss in the end zone on yet another great pass, the Cavaliers were lucky not to lose by 30.
Not only was Rosen stellar in his first start, but Paul Perkins and his two True Freshmen back-ups gained good yardage on the ground, after a very slow start that saw the Bruins net a minus-2 yards Rushing in the First Quarter. It took the UCLA O-Line a period before they started to open holes and running lanes, and once they did, they continued to wear down and overpower the opposition. Throughout the game, the seasoned veterans on the Offensive Line gave Rosen a good pocket, and plenty of time to throw. Rosen surveys the field quickly like Peyton Manning, gets rid of the ball quickly like Tom Brady, throws it on the move, even off the wrong foot and still pinpoints the throw, like Joe Montana, and throws it where only a Bruin can catch it, just like Troy Aikman used to do.
Also impressive was Rosen’s ability to avoid the rush, and also, to take a hit. He even got drilled in the back on a DIRTY Late Hit. On the very next pass play after that personal foul, Rosen threw his 3rd TD pass — to Defensive Tackle Kenny Clark — while getting hit again as he threw. Poise, guts, vision, smarts, accuracy, a rifle arm — this kid has it all. He threw maybe three or four off-target passes, but did not throw any Interceptions, and did not lose any fumbles. The so-called “inevitable” big Freshman Mistakes did not occur on this day.
So… The Offense is in good hands, and is primed to put lots of points on the board. But how about the Defense? Virginia was able to move the ball, and get first downs. However, every time they got to the red zone, the Bruin Defense stiffened, and forced them to kick Field Goals. Virginia’s only TD came against a second string unit that was playing looser coverage, almost like a Prevent. The Bruin Defense caused 1 Turnover, when a Cornerback forced the Receiver out-of-bounds, leaving Safety Adarius Pickett in position to get the Pick. I thought it was going to be called Interference on the CB, but when I watched a replay of the TV broadcast, the announcers said that the WAY he forced him out was legal.
A big difference between the UCLA Defense today and in the past was pressure on the QB. The Bruins are getting a more consistent rush on the passer, forcing many errant throws. The Defense DID pick up one P.I. penalty, and Myles Jack got flagged for two horse collar tackles, but they weren’t blatant. He didn’t “jerk” the man down in a way that could injure. He just got his hand on the collar on the first one, and on the second one, it was actually a facemask that was incorrectly called a horse collar. The Bruins went the first 14 minutes of the game without a penalty, so maybe there is hope that they won’t “lead” the Nation in penalty yards again this year.
All in all, the victory was as auspicious as you could have possibly hoped for. Optimism now runs high in Westwood. The only thing as impressive as the team’s performance, was the football debut of the new UCLA Spirit Squad. Oh my god, they are so amazing, with a few Rosen-like phenoms of their own. I took more photos at this game than at any game in my 10 years of doing this. Of the 1064 shots that I took, I am posting 64 today, and over 300 of the other 1000 are so sweet, that I want to post them too, before the next home game in two weeks. So check back often, as I will be posting more and more as fast as I can edit and upload them.
Come back soon for many more pics. And I apologize with all my heart if I mislabelled anyone. I’m trying my best, with no sleep in over 24 hours. :-/