Last year he was the talk of the town, dazzling the fans and proving all the doubters that he is the real deal. Now, the expectations for UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen are sky high as he looks to lead the Bruins to a Pac-12 championship.
Early Heisman odds have Rosen at 16/1, the same odds as Ole Miss quarterback Chad Kelly and Georgia running back Nick Chubb. He has firmly established himself as one of the best players in the Pac-12 but what can we realistically expect from the young sophomore play-caller?
UCLA has one of the more favorable home-away schedule in the conference. Notable home games include Stanford, Utah and rival USC. They only have three difficult away games in the year, at Texas A&M, at Arizona State and ending the regular season at Cal. With a favorable schedule and a year under his belt I see Rosen making another step forward in his progression.
Another year in the offense will help Rosen’s timing with his receives. He has also been able to go through fall and spring camp and has built more chemistry with his new receivers. Coach Jim Mora should look to open up the offense to exploit all of Rosen’s talents. According to Kirk Herbstreet, Rosen is the best pure passer in all of College football.
But, Rosen will enter this season without his leading receivers, Jordan Payton and Thomas Duarte and without leading rusher Paul Perkins. The only thing that could hold Rosen back are the new faces at the skill positions but I don’t expect this effecting his performance at all. As stated earlier, he has had plenty of time to go over plays and get a better understanding of how his wide outs will play. Rosen’s accuracy has been spot on and with a solid recruiting class it is possible that his receivers this year will be much more talented than ever before.
Last year, he totaled 23 touchdowns, 11 interceptions and 3669 yards. If Rosen wants to put his name up with the college football elites, he will have to lessen his interception numbers and show a natural progression in yards and especially touchdowns.
I fully expect Rosen to be in the Heisman conversation at the end of the regular season. He will need to pick up key victories against Stanford, at Texas A&M and at home against USC. If, and it could be a big if, UCLA wins the Pac-12 and makes the College football playoffs, I could easily see Rosen being in the top three and even winning Heisman and bringing a UCLA football program back into national relevancy.