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Josh Rosen flawless in UCLA debut

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UCLA's freshman phenom Josh Rosen got a lot of praise for his performance against Virginia on Saturday. What made pundits from around the country put Rosen in the Heisman chase so quickly?

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

For those of you who had watched Josh Rosen before he arrived at UCLA, his debut performance probably didn't come as much of a surprise.

It would have been a surprise if it was another true freshman quarterback that stepped behind center on Saturday, but not Rosen.

Rosen has years of experience running UCLA's offense through his time at St. John Bosco High School. He has the mental ability of an upperclassman. He has the physical tools of an NFL quarterback.

These were all things we knew heading into his debut, but seeing it all come together was something special.

The footwork, the arm strength, the touch – everything that was promised by the scouting reports was on display.

But perhaps the most impressive part of Rosen's debut was his decision making. From screen passes to deep fades, check-downs to corner routes, every decision Rosen made was the right one.

Rosen worked through his progressions like a veteran:

ScatFootwork
Take this scat concept for example. Rosen watches his primary read – the slant-curl – get covered, shifts briefly to his second read in the flat, baiting the Virginia cornerback forward, sidesteps the rush while staying on his toes, then laces the ball to the corner route for a big gain on third down.

Rosen also ran UCLA's packaged offense like a veteran:

StickCombo
The offensive line fires off the ball for an inside zone play, but Rosen notices the safety playing just a bit too far off, and promptly delivers a strike for a five yard gain.

Then came the arm strength off of a packaged play:

The UCLA offensive line blocks another zone run, but Rosen sees a one-on-one matchup he likes and puts the ball right on the money for another big gain.

Rosen also showed off his pocket presence:

Footwork
But Rosen's best throw resulted in a touchdown. A pump-fake touch pass off of play action placed in the perfect location to Thomas Duarte:

PumpSeamTD
After watching film from Rosen's UCLA debut, it was hard not to draw comparisons between him and the past two Heisman trophy winners.

Marcus Mariota completed 18 of 22 passes for 200 yards and three touchdowns against a Guz Malzahn-coached Arkansas State team in his debut, Jameis Winston completed a ridiculous 25 of 27 passes for 356 yards and four touchdowns on the road against Pittsburgh.

Both quarterbacks were in complete control of their offenses from the get go. Mariota played a bit more off of Oregon's overpowering rushing attack, while Winston was seemingly untouchable from the first snap of the ballgame.

Rosen wasn't much different. He completed 28 of 35 passes for 351 yards and three touchdowns against the Hoos, and looked just as confident and in control as Mariota and Winston were in their debuts.

While it might seem a bit overzealous to put Rosen on the same level as the greatest player in Oregon football history and one of the most talented underclassman signal-callers in college football history, Rosen is right on pace with both of them through one game.