UCLA Football: Freeing WR Theo Howard was the smart choice

PASADENA, CA - SEPTEMBER 03: Theo Howard /

Against Hawaii the UCLA Football offense continued the  upward trajectory they began in the fourth quarter against the Aggies. A large part of the reason that momentum continued to carry over was the emergence of a certain wideout.

Plenty was made of the story that a walk-on might start at one of the wide receiver positions and for good reasons. The UCLA Football team has some very talented receivers on the team but they seemed to not have developed as quickly as one would hope. There was a collective sigh of relief after Saturday’s game.

Coming into the game sophomore WR Theo Howard had a career stat line of 14 catches, 120 yards and two scores. That was 2016 and 2017 combined. Against Hawaii Howard exploded for nine catches, 110 yards and one score. Combine that with the insane tear that QB Josh Rosen is on and it is really hard not to be excited about might be.

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Of course Howard’s success goes hand in hand with the epiphany that is Rs.Sophomore TE Caleb Wilson. The young TE has already become a focal point of the offense and has earned Rosen’s respect and trust which I said would be paramount for a strong season. With Wilson drawing the eyes of defenders, WRs Jordan Lasley, Darren Andrews and Howard have all found more space to operate in and gain separation from defenders.

Howard gives this UCLA Football team a serious playmaker in that receiver group and is already one of the better route runners. He can be sudden but while he has very good speed he is not the biggest deep threat on the team. That job will likely go to Demetric Felton eventually.

He is dangerous after the catch and displayed that more than a few times against Hawaii especially on his scoring catch. If you ask Howard though it wasn’t his hands or route that needed work but his blocking. As puzzling as that might be most fans given his main job is catching the ball, blocking is clearly a priority for this coaching staff.

He will face his first road test of the season against Memphis on Saturday and you best believe the Bruins are going to throw the ball his way quite a few times. This game will most likely devolve into a shootout as both defenses are banged up. With Memphis a team capable of pounding the rock, the UCLA Football offense should focus on scoring as much as possible. Clearly their strength is through the air.

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This is the perfect time in the season for Howard to come on. Yes it is really early in the UCLA Football season but the timing couldn’t be more perfect. The Bruin offense is still struggling to run the football and so they’ve turned to Rosen to shoulder the load, pun intended. He’s found a major connection with Caleb Wilson but it was paramount that other options emerged in order to keep the momentum going. Therein lies the beauty of Howard’s timeliness.