Two weeks ago, the UCLA Football team lost their most important receiver, tight end Caleb Wilson. As we saw against Arizona, the passing game has taken a step back without him on the field.
With tight end Caleb Wilson in the game, UCLA Football quarterback Josh Rosen had his go-to guy and did not have to worry about how they would move the ball downfield. A healthy dose of Wilson with a dash of Darren Andrews and Jordan Lasley made this a well-oiled machine.
Wilson was automatic. If a ball was thrown his way, it was guaranteed to be caught and gone for over ten yards as he averaged 12.9 yards per catch. In 36 receptions, Wilson had 490 yards, which is good for 2nd on the team.
But all that went away late in the game against Colorado when Wilson injured his foot and is now sidelined for the rest of the season. It is a huge blow to the Bruins’ passing game which made significant improvements from last season.
With Wilson out, the passing game will suffer. UCLA’s game against Arizona is proof of that.
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The Bruins were sluggish and could not get on the same page for the majority of the contest. Though superstar QB Josh Rosen threw for 219 yards, he did the Bruins’ no favors with 20/34 attempts, had 0 touchdowns and 3 interceptions. Though a 58.8 completion percentage is still pretty decent, it was the dropped balls at key moments that really affected the Bruins’ progress.
In the first half against Arizona, UCLA had several opportunities to keep the game close and put points on the board. It seemed as though every receiver had at least one key drop, though Lasley particularly stood out with several.
Lasley had made up for most of them with 77 yards on 6 catches (12.8 ypc), but imagine what could have been if he caught every ball thrown to him in the first half. There is a possibility the halftime score and momentum would have been very different for UCLA.
Darrn Andrews was a bit nonexistent against Arizona. The Bruins’ leading receiver only caught four balls for 37 yards. That’s not a good sign for UCLA’s leading receiver.
If UCLA wants to stay afloat this season, they are going to have to rely on Andrews and Lasley. In turn, both receivers are going to have to continue to improve their game and keep UCLA’s offense firing on all cylinders.
The Bruin coaches also have to bring a few younger players up to speed. As the next in line, Theo Howard, Austin Roberts and even Soso Jamabo have to bring their best effort when Rosen targets them, becuase if UCLA’s passing game starts to suffer, then we will continue to see a systematic downward trend with a seat getting very hot