The UCLA Football program was able to snap a two game skid last night against the Colorado Buffaloes and get a win in the conference column. While they found a renewed sense of dedication to the run game and the defense played well in spurts they may have lost one of their most exciting players for the season.
Rs. Sophomore Tight end Caleb Wilson came on like gangbusters this season after being used sparingly last year. He’s been UCLA Football QB Josh Rosen‘s favorite target after being nearly unstoppable against the Texas A&M Aggies to the tune of 15 catches for 208 yards.
Since then teams have focused their efforts on slowing Wilson down with bracket coverage and being more physical at the line to throw off his timing with Rosen.
Still even with all of their efforts being focused on Wilson he’s still been able to rack up 23 catches for 282 yards the past four contests. Rosen isn’t the only one to benefit from Wilson’s breakout season either.
Because of the coverage and attention that Wilson demands from defenses other receivers have thrived in one on one opportunities. Darren Andrews leads the country in TD passes and Jordan Lasley has become a big play waiting to happen. Theo Howard has regressed over the past two games with drops but previously was enjoying his best season so far.
Heading back to Rosen, part of what has made him so good this season has been his willingness to attack the middle of the field and that is in large part thanks to Wilson. Caleb does his best work in the short to intermediate areas of the field running routes like a savvy veteran and not a first year starter. However he may not be a starter for much longer.
Reports are coming in that Wilson may have broken his leg in the fourth quarter of Saturday’s game against Colorado. If he is truly is lost for the season how does this group look going forward?
Austin Roberts, a converted WR, should become the starter at the position. He’s a mismatch in coverage but not in the ways that Wilson is. Roberts relies more on his speed rather than operating smoothly in his route running. His hands aren’t as secure but he can make some nice catches as evidenced by his score against the Buffs in the corner of the endzone. He tracked the ball nicely securing it for the score.
Here’s the guy i think we should really be looking at. Jordan Wilson, no relation to Caleb, is more of a true TE. Well built and with solid hands, Jordan has already demonstrated his ability to be a functional part of the offense with his score against Memphis. Yes there will be a learning curve with a larger part of the offense now on his shoulders but he should be able to come in a pick up the slack.
Now things get tricky. Does this UCLA Football team decide to get true freshmen Jimmy Jaggers or Moses Robinson-Carr involved in the offense? Neither one have done anything on the field yet but both are very talented players. Jaggers works the same types of zones as Caleb and Robinson-Carr has a prototypical build but both are inexperienced. Luckily the Bruins enter their bye week and have two full weeks go get these players up to speed.
The biggest question I have is what will the impact on Rosen be? He’s been leaning on Caleb since the season began and has developed a nice rapport with him. Will defenses be able to clamp down on other receivers without the threat of Caleb to occupy them? Can the run game continue to take steps forward now that the passing game could take a hit? We will have to wait two weeks to find out.