Coaching Josh Rosen – CU/OSU/WSU Edition


I compiled notes and thoughts over the last three weeks and finally came up with enough for another installment of our Coaching Josh Rosen feature.

For more on the origins and purpose of this feature, check out the previous editions:Virginia, UNLV, BYU, Arizona, and Cal. 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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A Note of Superstition

This isn’t particularly germane to the topic at hand, but it’s the best place I can think of to note it. To quote Michael Scott: ‘I’m not superstitious, but I’m a little stitious.’

To wit, the only superstition I really hold to is knocking on wood to avoid jinxing something. I don’t need to wear certain clothes, avoid cats, carry a lucky charm – any of that stuff. But if I or someone within earshot indicates that something bad is not going to happen or expresses hope that something bad won’t happen or even just mentions an ongoing streak of something bad not happening, I have to rap my knuckle against something wooden or I start to get very nervous.

(As a side note, if I’m at home, it drives my dog crazy because he thinks someone is knocking at the door, and he goes into the loudest but least convincing guard dog barking you’ve ever heard. This is my curse, but I remain compelled to ward of jinxes in this manner.)

Nov 14, 2015; Pasadena, CA, USA; UCLA Bruins quarterback Josh Rosen (3) throws a pass against the Washington State Cougars in a NCAA football game at Rose Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Lately, I’ve been warding off a lot of jinxes during UCLA games. Every time game announcers roll out the n-passes without an interception stat for Josh Rosenknock-knock…bark-bark-bark. Rosen is now up to 188 passes without an interception…


…(the last one coming in the early third quarter at Stanford on October 16). That’s impressive, and it sure shows that he’s avoiding a ton of killer freshman mistakes. But can we stop talking about it until the season (or streak)…

[sigh] knock-knock

…is over? Please? I’m begging here.

Snap Counts and Snap Judgments

Against both Oregon State and Washington State, the opponents’ defensive linemen were simulating the snap count to draw the Bruin offensive line into a false start (as if they needed any help in racking up false starts!). When asked about this after the Oregon State game, Rosen gamely stood up for his offensive line.

He took the blame for a couple of the penalties, citing one time when he called out the snap count when he was supposed to use a silent count.

Beyond that, he took umbrage at the defense’s cheap tactics and defended his guys in the trenches. This is good, selfless leadership, and it’s a long way from barking back and forth with center Jake Brendel after a miscue in the Virginia game.

Next: Pac-12 Power Poll - Week 11

Like Teacher, Like Pupil

In the frenzied final minutes of Saturday’s game, Josh Rosen saw an opportunity, tucked the ball, and ran 37 yards for the go-ahead touchdown. The Rose Bowl went wild, as most in attendance assumed that Rosen had just saved the day. The problem was that the 1:09 remaining was more than enough (0:02 more, to be precise) for Luke Falk to lead the Cougars back down the field for the winning touchdown.

I’ll let Jack Wang of the LA Daily News take the rest:

"Asked if he had thought a win secure after his touchdown, [Rosen] said: ‘No, but I kind of got the feeling that everyone else did.’Asked to clarify if by ‘everyone,’ he meant his teammates, Rosen said: ‘I mean, I don’t know. I’m not going to say anything specifically, but — I don’t know.’"

Yikes! I’m hoping that gets taken by the rest of the team as an act of leadership, as Rosen holding his teammates accountable and setting the tone. After all, it’s not that different from when Jim Mora called Rosen out in front of the press in fall camp in order to light a fire under him and see how he responded to adversity and public pressure. Perhaps this is what Rosen’s learning in Mora’s season-long Leadership 101 seminar.

RELATED: Mora Yells at Rosen: Good News for UCLA

Because if not…he runs the risk of alienating the experienced players by presuming a level of authority and social capital that he hasn’t yet earned. Additionally, he risks creating an adversarial relationship between the offense and the defense, which can cripple a team’s morale and sense of unity – particularly by singling out a defense that’s been gutted by injury.

This is potentially the kind of thing this feature was created to disprove, the kind of thing that would lend credence to Rosen’s biggest detractors.