Josh Rosen had a truly awful game against BYU. Obviously this is going to be a slightly different installment of the Josh Rosen Ego-Watch.
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This is the Josh Rosen Ego-Watch, where we evaluate whether the freshman quarterback’s allegedly unwieldy self-regard is making him an uncoachable liability. I’m not going to go into the details each week of how and why we do this, so take a gander at the UVA and UNLV installments for more context.
At the end of the day, Rosen finished having gone 11-23 for 106 yards, three interceptions, and one touchdown. Most of the damage, however, was done in the first half, in which he went 5-15 for 52 yards and three interceptions. Noel Mazzone said later this week that BYU was throwing Rosen so many different looks that even Mazzone didn’t know what he was seeing. Rosen was clearly rattled.
Only five Bruin receivers caught passes on Saturday, compared to twelve against UNLV and eleven against UVA. The combination of BYU’s coverage and pressure narrowed Rosen’s scope and forced him into desperation throws, three of which ended up in Cougar hands. So while I know Jim Mora said of Rosen after the game that, ‘He thinks he can get away with some things that you cannot get away with at this level,’ I would tend to see that more as a coaching tactic from Mora than as an honest assessment. Rosen’s mistakes did not look to me like the fruit of overconfidence.
Sep 19, 2015; Pasadena, CA, USA; UCLA Bruins quarterback Josh Rosen (3) sets to pass in the second quarter of the game against the Brigham Young Cougars at the Rose Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
No, the telling aspect of Saturday’s game, the one that gives an insight into Rosen’s ego and coachability, is how readily he made adjustments in the second half to help the team win. He only took eight pass attempts, six of which connected, and they were largely on shorter, higher-percentage throws. He went from 3.5 yards per attempt in the first half to 6.8 in the second half.
The more we hear about how Mora is coaching Rosen, the more confidence I have that this will be a fruitful partnership. At halftime, the Mora took him aside and told him some jokes to loosen him up. Then he honed in on the issue at hand and said, ‘I’m not even thinking about pulling you.’ Finally, he asked the entire team in the locker room to show Rosen how much they had his back, and they erupted into a deafening cheer.
It appears the message was received. Rosen noted after the game that he made some ‘immature mistakes’ and that it was ‘one of the worst games of [his] career.’ Rosen has said before that his job is only to get the ball to his playmakers. If he didn’t truly believe that before Saturday, he does now because he learned how much he can rely on his team.