Josh Rosen was back with the team today, and according to the practice reports, looked good. He is still waiting for clearance from the medical staff, but there is a decent chance we’ll see him on the field Saturday.
Unfortunately, I think we can all agree one of the most disappointing aspects of the UCLA program this year has been the defense. Defensive Coordinator Tom Bradley addressed the media today and didn’t really shed light on any of the defensive struggles, if you ask me. When questioned about the 380 rushing yards that ASU hung on Colorado last week and how we’ll defend that, he just said, “but that’s ok, that’s good, we’re working at it hard”. Um, ok. It doesn’t look like it. He was asked specifically about defending 6’4” ASU running back Kalen Ballage, but didn’t offer anything specific. My advice: let’s not do what we usually do and get Ballage’s Heisman campaign going on Saturday.
We will be without Darnay Holmes in the first half, but Bradley pointed out that this has happened before and they are prepared. Isn’t the bigger question, “why does this keep happening!?!?!”. Bradley also gave his opinion on the call, saying that the targeting was not blatant, but they got the call and they’ll handle it. Jalen Starks did not practice and Bradley offered no speculation as to his return.
Offensive Coordinator Jedd Fisch ran the media gauntlet today, and was immediately asked about Rosen’s return. He was back on the field today, and while Fisch admitted they had to go through the appropriate protocols, he said that Rosen looks good and might very well return on Saturday.
I know we’re all wondering what the heck is going on with the run game, and how they decide who gets the starts each weekend. Bolu Olorunfunmi got the nod against Utah, and Fisch basically said they evaluate the running backs each Friday and whoever looks the best gets the start. Sounds like a legit plan for a top tier football program.
He also admitted the Utah game started under control, but quickly got out of hand. We need to maintain drives and be efficient and more consistent on that side of the ball. ASU is aggressive, can pass rush, and play all over the field, and will present bigger challenges that the Utes did. He thinks Saturday will be a tight game and hopes fans will be there to cheer the team on (Jedd, the numbers are dropping!).
With regards to ASU’s win over Washington, ASU brought some nontraditional formations on defense and held the Huskies to just seven points. He didn’t specifically say how we’re going to avoid something like that, but I’ve never known Coach Fisch to reveal much of anything the week before a game.
Scott Quessenberry was also interviewed by the media, and admitted they didn’t do enough last weekend. He said playing with three quarterbacks does not affect his play, but having Josh Rosen back on Saturday will definitely make a difference. He was impressed with Devon Modster’s 7-7 and one touchdown start, but said no matter what happens they need to stick together and support each other. While he says which quarterback is behind him doesn’t matter, he seems to be looking forward to having the stability of Rosen back on offense.
Finally, Kenny Young was up. I happen to like this kid and believe that while he isn’t the greatest linebacker to ever play at UCLA, he definitely strives to embody what comes with being the last player to wear #42. He was asked if something changed after the defense’s solid first quarter against Utah, and he said nothing really did. They have to work on playing complete games, and new faces have stepped up in the wake of so many injuries on defense. He said he tries to be a role model, and their focus is maintaining positivity and continuing to try to get to a bowl game. They enjoy playing at home and play better, and said there is something very special about playing at the Rose Bowl. They’re working on their mindset and continuing to have fun playing football at UCLA.