Rosen makes strong first impression in UCLA's practice
PASADENA, Calif. (AP) Josh Rosen had to wait his turn in his first appearance at the Rose Bowl as a UCLA quarterback on Saturday. When the Bruins return on Sept. 5 for their season opener, the true freshman might be the first man up.
Rosen was 13 of 17 with two touchdowns and one interception to close out spring practice, earning a positive evaluation from UCLA coach Jim Mora.
''I thought he made a lot of progress this spring,'' Mora said.
Mora said the 15 practices did not offer clarity in the four-man competition between Rosen, Jerry Neuheisel, Asiantii Woulard and Mike Fafaul to replace three-year starter Brett Hundley.
''We're searching for consistency in performance, consistency in preparation, and I think that we are headed in the right direction,'' Mora said.
Rosen certainly demonstrated the highest ceiling when he took the field for his first live reps. Working against the first-team defense, Rosen completed 9 of 10 passes on his first drive, capping it with a short touchdown toss to Tyler Scott.
Rated as the top quarterback recruit in the nation, Rosen arrived at UCLA in January and did not look overwhelmed by the transition to college football.
''He is one of those kids that the game comes to more easily than some,'' Mora said. ''He understands concepts. Certain performers go out on the field and things kind of slow down for them and they see things better or more quickly than others, and I think he is one of those guys.''
Neuheisel also threw a touchdown to Scott, a 19-yard completion which accounted for the only other score in team drills.
Here are a few observations as UCLA closed out spring practice:
MYLES IN THE MIDDLE: Myles Jack has already seamlessly transitioned between outside linebacker and running back in his first two seasons at UCLA, so it shouldn't be a surprise to see his shift to middle linebacker this spring.
Jack has previously played inside in the Bruins' nickel defense, allowing him to help fill the hole left by Eric Kendricks. Jack will be featured in a variety of roles, doing everything from rushing the passer to covering tight ends and slot receivers.
SECONDARY SHUFFLE: Ishmael Adams was the only Bruin to make the All-Pac-12 first-team last season after returning two interceptions for touchdowns, but was not among the first two cornerbacks on the field Saturday. Fabian Moreau and Marcus Rios worked on the outside, with Adams sliding inside to cover slot receivers in nickel personnel.
''I don't know if we have got the top corner in America or not, but we have got a really good group of corners,'' Mora said.
NO BUMPS OR BRUISES: UCLA managed to avoid serious injuries this spring, which Mora credited to his decision to reduce physical contact compared to previous years. He also praised players for their ability to adapt to the style necessary to practice in such manner.
That cautious approach was reflected in how Mora chose to limit right tackle Caleb Benenoch in the spring as he recovered from offseason surgery. Benenoch was limited to a handful of individual drills and conditioning work to avoid any setbacks.
SPRING FLING: The announced crowd of 8,738 did not seem to mind the less than lively format of another practice instead of a scrimmage game. Proceeds from ticket sales and concessions went to Operation Mend, which provides medical treatment to military personnel injured in Iraq and Afghanistan.