UCLA cornerback Marcus Rios once spent a month in the hospital due to a life-threatening fungal infection. Two years later, he’s back up to 185 pounds and an important part of the Bruins’ rotation of defensive backs.
– Josh Rosen missed Monday evening’s practice because he was attending a funeral, and the Bruins went back to the two-by-two quarterback rotation they had employed until Saturday. Asiantii Woulard took all of the first-team reps, while Jerry Neuheisel took the reins on the second string.
Woulard didn’t look as good as he did on Saturday, a performance that head coach Jim Mora called the best in the quarterback’s two-plus years at UCLA. He started off the day in a good rhythm, but began to devolve a bit in the latter half of what was a very long practice. He threw numerous interceptions, including a tipped ball that ended up in the hands of nose tackle Kenny Clark. Overall, I’d call his showing “pedestrian” at best.
Neuheisel didn’t have a great day either, and just doesn’t seem like a viable candidate to win the starting spot due to his lack of arm strength. Continue reading
Head coach Jim Mora talked after UCLA’s practice on Monday, touching on the Bruins’ ongoing quarterbacks race and redshirt sophomore Asiantii Woulard.
“It was the best day he’s had since he’s been here, Saturday,” Mora said. “He looked comfortable. Tonight, he backed it up with another really good practice. Not perfect, but a lot better. Things are moving in the right direction at that position.”
Mora also talked about the secondary, including the development of cornerback Marcus Rios, as well as receiver Jordan Lasley’s “quick trigger.”
Q: Does Josh Rosen really look like he can play this season. Or is the media really hyping it up too much … truthfully?
A: I honestly think he’s looked like UCLA’s best quarterback through two weeks.
Q: What’s your take on how much better Rosen would have to be to make burning his redshirt worth it? If he’s going to be only slightly better than Jerry Neuheisel or Asiantii Woulard, then maybe it’s best to keep his year of eligibility.
A: Quantifying differences into clear “start or not start” thresholds is tricky, but if Rosen can translate what he’s done in practices into real games, I think that’s more than enough to make burning that redshirt worthwhile. Neuheisel makes good decisions, but his limited arm strength limits his potential as a starter. Woulard has talent, but hasn’t looked as good as Rosen this spring — and that’s after two-plus years in the program.
If Rosen does start, then UCLA also has the ideal roster to surround a true freshman behind center. The entire offensive line is intact, and basically every significant receiver and running back returns too. Jordan Payton said after the Alamo Bowl that whoever replaces Brett Hundley will get the keys to a Ferrari. That remains a good metaphor for the Bruins’ offensive situation.
Q: If we assume Rosen likely locks down the starting QB job, is Neuheisel still holding down the No. 2 spot on the depth chart or has Woulard displayed enough consistency to close the gap?
A: I think I’d still give Neuheisel the edge at No. 2, but Woulard did very well to end the second week of spring camp. I wouldn’t rule him out.
Q: From your observation, as a whole, which position group on offense and defensive seem to be the weakest? Continue reading