What to expect from Josh Rosen versus Arizona
To be a starting quarterback in Division 1 college football as a true freshman means you’re going to go through immense pressure and difficulty, especially if you play for a BCS program like Josh Rosen at UCLA.
Rosen, who came to UCLA as the nation’s top high school quarterback came out of the gates flying with a +4.6 PFF grade against Virginia, but slipped to a -2.9 against lowly UNLV and a far worse -4.8 late Saturday night against BYU. The good news is that his back-to-back down games haven’t cost the Bruins in the standings, as they currently sit at 3-0 and rank No. 9 in the AP poll.
Next up for Rosen and the Bruins will be their biggest game of the early season this Saturday night on national television against PFF’s third-rated defensive back from last season, Will Parks (+31.6), and the Arizona Wildcats.
Parks is already on his game early in ’15, ranking as the fourth-rated defensive back in our grades. If Parks isn’t enough for Rosen to handle then say hello to safety Anthony Lopez, who scored on a pick-6 on the second play from scrimmage to start the season against UTSA. Lopez currently ranks as the seventh-rated safety this season for PFF. Want more proof Rosen is in for a tough night? Safety Jamar Allah is right behind Lopez in ninth with a +6.8 PFF grade.
More bad news might be on the horizon for Rosen and the Bruins, as Scooby Wright, the top-graded inside linebacker in the nation last season for PFF (+53.0) is close to returning from a knee injury that has kept him sidelined since the opener.
On the positive front, Rosen will have good film study to work with after the solid performance put together from former Bruins quarterback, Brett Hundley in last year’s match-up.
Hundley ended last season with a -3.3 PFF grade overall, but earned his second- best grade of the season (+3.6) against these Wildcats with Wright on the field in their 17-7 win.
Also keep in mind Rosen won’t have to put too much pressure on himself to do too much, as UCLA currently ranks as the fifth-best PFF defense in the nation, following a season in which they rated seventh. So based on these numbers, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see these two teams marred in another low-scoring defensive battle, with Rosen only needing to put together a solid performance to come away with the win.
This is why Rosen must take better care of the ball and let running back Paul Perkins carry as much of the load as possible. Perkins is currently the fourth-rated PFF back in the nation, and he has the luxury of running behind two of the top-rated PFF guards in the country this season in No. 10-rated Kenny Lacy (+7.5) and No. 12-rated Alex Redmond (+7.3).
With a good ground game and defense working in his favor, Rosen should be put in a position where he doesn’t need the outstanding day he had Week 1 against Virginia to get the win – he just needs to avoid the struggles he had against UNLV and BYU the last two weeks.