Coaching Josh Rosen – Cal Edition


Josh Rosen had himself a night last Thursday against an iffy Cal pass defense. After a three-week hiatus that coincided with a two-game losing streak and nothing really to report for this feature, Coaching Josh Rosen is back to look at Trent Dilfer’s warning that ego would hamper Rosen’s success at UCLA.

For more on the origins and purpose of this feature, check out the previous editions: Virginia, UNLV, BYU, and Arizona. But in a nutshell, the goal is to refute the narrative that Rosen is arrogant and uncoachable, and to more broadly look at the non-Xs & Os aspect of coaching a rising superstar – i.e., managing confidence levels, focus, disappointment, etc.

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It’s all about the win.

Rosen was 34 for 47 (72.3%) for 399 yards and three touchdowns on Thursday. Thirty-four completions sets a new single-game record for UCLA. But if you ask Josh Rosen – and the press did – he isn’t concerned with personal milestones. Fox’s Bruce Feldman reports:

"Rosen, though, isn’t big on records or stats.Asked how it felt to throw for almost 400 yards: ‘It feels as good as BYU, when I three picks – it’s a win.’Asked how meaningful it was to win in a matchup with Goff: ‘It’s cool to sit on the sidelines and watch a guy like that, but every game is meaningful.’Asked how it felt to break UCLA’s single-game completion record: ‘I really don’t care,’ he said, before mentioning his admiration for one of his idols: Boise State great Kellen Moore and his record for most wins by an FBS quarterback.Now that’s one record Rosen does seem to care about."

Oct 22, 2015; Pasadena, CA, USA; UCLA Bruins quarterback Josh Rosen (3) celebrates after wide receiver Thomas Duarte (18) made a touchdown against the California Golden Bears during the first quarter at Rose Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

I don’t doubt his sincerity in deflecting attention away from his personal accolades and focusing instead on the team’s victory. That said, I have to imagine his coaches or parents or even he himself decided beforehand this was the route to take in order to both put his best foot forward and to be a team leader. He is impressively on-message here.

Completions? Nope, win.

Yards? Nope, win.

Besting draft prospect Jared Goff? Nope, just another win.

Contrast this with the stories leaking out of College Station this week about Texas A&M‘s quarterback infighting, and it’s clear the huge gulf that exists between who Rosen is and who Trent Dilfer and other talent evaluators painted him to be. I don’t want to tar the reputation of freshman A&M QB Kyler Murray, and I’ll caveat here that I only have the rumors from that linked CBS piece to go on, but that head-strong, me-first petulance is what folks were saying we’d be getting with Rosen despite contrary reports from coaches and players who actually knew him.

RELATED: Josh Rosen is More than Your Average Freshman

And, as I’ve mentioned in this space before, it limited his recruiting options – namely closing the door for him at his number one school, Stanford. Now, obviously, Bruins fans are quite grateful that it worked out for Rosen to land in Westwood, but Dilfer and the like-minded scouts should be held accountable for how incorrect they were and the consequences it had for Rosen’s future.

That said…

This recurring feature is still focused on watching how the young freshman handles early success and renown. Does he have a level enough head to be the reliable leader UCLA needs from its quarterback position? That brings us to the other fun story about Rosen this week:

Rosen somehow smuggled an inflatable hot tub into his dorm. In the photo above, he is joined by the young woman from the photo below:

Now, even if I put on my most prude and proper church lady hat, I concede that there’s nothing untoward about this particular incident. Yes, hot tubs are not allowed in the dorms, and it has been removed. But there’s nothing here that doesn’t fall under the category of ‘perks that a young man playing quarterback at a major university might enjoy.’ When we ask kids to stay in school and forgo the draft because of the college experience, this is that college experience.

But I will note that this is the type of lifestyle that can potentially become a distraction for a young and successful player, particularly one in the media spotlight of Los Angeles. Managing the perks, so to speak, so that they don’t overwhelm the core athletic and academic responsibilities – that’s the key challenge for Rosen. That’s the test that his naysayers implied he would fail. And that’s the kind of thing we keep an eye on when we talk Coaching Josh Rosen.

Next: Is the Colorado Game a Trap?

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