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2017 UCLA Football Fall Preview: The Most Important Bruin on This Year’s Team

Who will be this year’s second-string quarterback?

Devon Modster throws a pass during Spring Practice on April 15, 2017.
Joe Piechowski

There are times when as a writer I totally blow it, like last week when I mangled the projected depth chart of the defensive line. But, there are other times when it’s scary how deadspot on I can be.

In the caption of the photo for that article, I wrote: “Redshirt Senior Mike Fafaul might just be the most important guy on the UCLA roster this year.”

Believe me, after watching last season, I wish I had been wrong.

When Josh Rosen got hurt, the quality of quarterback play suffered substantially as a result. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t blame Mike Fafaul. He gave it 110% and he played at his best when his best was needed.

Instead, I do blame last year’s coaching staff for failing to prepare a suitable backup.

In the same article, I hinted at the fact that I thought Jim Mora should have burned Devon Modster’s redshirt when it became clear that Rosen would be unable to start a game. Of course, I only hinted at that because I wasn’t going to blamed for putting some sort of hex on Josh Rosen. Sports Illustrated may have done that, but not me.

It doesn’t change the fact that as we head into another season of UCLA Football, the most important player on the team is likely the second-string quarterback because if Rosen should go down again for any length of time, the Bruins will need someone to come in and effectively run the offense.

That didn’t happen last year. But, again, no one effectively ran the offense last year anywhere but into the ground.

So, when it comes to the quarterbacks, expect Josh Rosen to be able to start on September 3rd.

I was asked this week by another media member “Why aren’t people asking if Rosen will be 100%?” I had to explain that it was because he was throwing the ball reasonably well in Spring Practice and that there didn’t seem to be any lingering effects of his shoulder surgery.

Personnel Changes

Who’s gone: Mike Fafaul

Who’s new: Austin Burton

There really aren’t many changes to the quarterback roster. Add Burton, who looked effective during the Spring, and subtract Fafaul. That’s about it.

But, for good measure, here’s the QB roster.

2017 UCLA Football Quarterbacks Roster

No. Name Height Weight Year
No. Name Height Weight Year
3 Josh Rosen 6-4 220 Jr.
12 Austin Burton 6-3 203 Fr.
15 Matt Lynch 6-4 218 R-Fr.
18 Devon Modster 6-2 220 R-Fr.
19 Craig Myers 5-11 185 R-Jr.
25 Justin Saleh 6-2 185 R-Fr.

While Burton had a good Spring, I fully expect him to redshirt this season since UCLA has Devon Modster and Matt Lynch who will likely be the second and third stringers, respectively.

In fact, at Pac-12 Media Days, Bruins coach Jim Mora indicated that, coming out of Spring, Modster would be listed 2nd on the depth chart. He did add, however, that he is still expecting a battle for the backup spot in Fall Camp.

Projected Depth Chart

2017 UCLA Football Quarterbacks Projected Depth Chart

Quarterback
Quarterback
Josh Rosen
Devon Modster
Matt Lynch

Of course, I would hope, as I hope every single year, that our backup quarterback and even our third-string QB get some serious playing time in at least one game. This year, that game would be the Hawai’i game on Saturday, September 9th.

Maybe, just maybe, last year’s offensive debacle will lead Jim Mora to adopt one thing from his NFL days that we haven’t seen at UCLA. In the NFL preseason, the starting QB typically plays enough to help shake off the rust and then the backups will get to play to keep the starter from getting hurt and to give the coaches a look at how the guys operate under game conditions. Mora and Fisch should plan to have Rosen play the first half against Hawai’i and then yield to Modster for the third quarter and Matt Lynch for the fourth quarter because both of those guys have already redshirted and, if everyone has done their jobs in the first half, the outcome shouldn’t be in doubt in the second half.

A plan like this will give both guys valuable experience they can use in the event the unthinkable happens again this year.

And, with that, we conclude our 2017 UCLA Football Fall Preview.


Go Bruins!!!