Mike Fafaul, the 5th-year former walk-on thrust into the starting role due to Josh Rosen’s season-ending shoulder injury, has been heaped with all the kinds of praise that athletes don’t really like to hear: gutty, great teammate, loyal to the program—not bad things, but words usually reserved for players who aren’t getting noticed for what they’ve actually done on the field.
Can the Bruins, 0-3 with him as the starter, get a win for Mike Fafaul?
"A guy like Mike, who’s been here for five years, and he’s worked so hard, and he’s done such a great job, and he’s been such a good teammate, and team member, and positive influence around here, to give him a chance to have a few wins in the win column when people open his record book in a few years would be really great." Jim Mora said to reporters on Wednesday.
Fafaul said he had confidence in his offense in their matchup against struggling Oregon State, whose only conference victory was a 47-44 win against Cal in Corvallis.
"We have a lot of new concepts in and we’re executing them well, and they work well against what Oregon State’s defense tries to do," Fafaul said. "I think there’s some places in there we can exploit them, and we’re going to try to do so."
Fafaul had the opportunity to play at some other Division I programs as a graduate transfer, but stayed in Westwood because he loves being at UCLA. Saturday at the Rose Bowl will be the best, and maybe last, shot for Fafaul to lead the Bruins to a victory as their quarterback.
"I think his teammates have a great deal of respect for him because of the way that he has approached his opportunities here and hung in there," Mora said. "You know, I’m excited about him, and I want to see him go out there and play well, and us play well around him, and get a win."
Rosen on the Headsets
Josh Rosen has been on the headsets the last two games he dressed for, which Mora thinks has been beneficial to the sophomore QB.
"He’s listening more than talking, and it was good for him," Mora said. "I think it’s always good for a player and especially a quarterback to really kinda hear the communication that goes on and the decisions that are made before each play on why you’re going to run a play."
Mora said that Rosen hoped to be on the sidelines at the Rose Bowl this Saturday, after the coach visited his neighbor and discussed his recovery and future over some ice cream and cheesecake.
"I might have to assign a couple of the backup offensive lineman or defensive lineman to stand near him and just collapse on him if the ball comes close to him," Mora joked. "I know that he’s desperate to get out here and help where he can."
Kickers Kicking Better
Mora and special teams coach Scott White both believed that having the freshman scholarship kickers taking a step back would help them progress into their roles moving forward.
"They both came in and they were good early, then when school started they hit a little bit of a wall, and that’s not unusual to happen as freshman," Mora said.
After being renamed the full time starters, White said they’ve both kicked better in practice this week.
"Both of those kids have really responded nicely, and I look forward to them having big games this week," White said.
Check out more from Coach Mora, Scott White, Darren Andrews, and Mike Fafaul. Videos are courteys of Thuc Nhi Nguyen of the LA Daily News.
HC Jim Mora:
LB/ST Coach Scott White:
WR Darren Andrews:
QB Mike Fafaul: