What does it take to succeed as a true freshman quarterback?

UCLA will likely turn to Josh Rosen this season, making the St. John Bosco product the latest true freshman to start at quarterback. (Scott Varley/Staff)

UCLA will likely turn to Josh Rosen this season, making the St. John Bosco product the latest true freshman to start at quarterback. (Scott Varley/Staff)

Josh Rosen will almost certainly be UCLA’s starting quarterback this season. How successful he’ll be as a true freshman is another question. To try and answer that, I asked a few players who had started games their first year on campus — from Ohio State’s Terrelle Pryor to Penn State’s Christian Hackenberg.

The story is part of our college football preview package, which comes out in magazine form as part of all LANG newspaper editions this Sunday. You can check out some of that content online, including (too early) USC-UCLA predictions and games to watch each week.

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Game coverage roundup

– UCLA 38, USC 28: Bruins defeat Trojans in battle of L.A.

A dance party erupted in the UCLA locker room, one filled with primal screams and sprayed Sprite streams. The team rule, as it has been all season, allots 24 hours for celebration. Coming off their biggest win in years, the No. 17 Bruins were going to use each and every one of them.

– UCLA beats USC to end college football monopoly in Los Angeles:

UCLA can say the monopoly is over, and now it’s really true. Jim Mora didn’t want to go there, but he doesn’t have to because it goes without saying. When asked point blank, Mora paused, smirked, said he didn’t know and glanced in another reporter’s direction so he could answer something else. He wanted to say it, but he didn’t. We know.

– USC vs. UCLA: Fans support their teams while tailgating in the rain

Clint Hamblin said he went to Lowe’s, bought a chunk of sod for $3.50, flung it over his shoulder, had his fiancé, Kara, spray paint the UCLA script logo into it, and then tacked it to a piece of plywood.

Photo gallery, featuring sad Xavier Grimble on slide No. 12.

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If you want to relive that victory …

Here’s the running score summary from UCLA’s 38-28 win over USC:

UCLA 38, USC 28 – 4:02 remaining in fourth quarter:
Johnathan Franklin with an absolute dagger of a touchdown, taking it 29 yards to the right corner of the end zone as the Rose Bowl erupts. The Mayor now has 162 yards and two touchdowns on 26 carries. Drew a penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct, but certainly worth the celebration for him as well as UCLA fans. Continue reading

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UCLA vs. USC: Preview

Johnathan Franklin probably said it best: “Whoever wins, that’s who you’re talking about all year. It’s for the city. It’s for bragging rights. It’s for everything.”

UCLA offense vs. USC defense: USC’s rush defense isn’t outstanding, though it limited ASU to 71 yards last week. Hard to see Johnathan Franklin coming up with anything less than triple-digit yards, though that depends on how well the youth on the offensive line perform. When not facing Oregon, the Trojans’ front four can pressure as well as any team in the conference. Here’s betting that Brett Hundley shows off enough savvy to escape sacks when necessary in the biggest game of his young career. Edge: UCLA

UCLA defense vs. USC offense: Jim Mora has talked up Marqise Lee and Robert Woods all week long, and with good reason. USC’s greatest offensive strength lines up with UCLA’s questionable secondary; if the Bruins give Matt Barkley time, deep throws will find either capable hands or a shower of yellow flags. The onus is on the front seven — which has performed well lately — to alleviate pressure on the defensive backfield. UCLA has defended the rush well, and the Trojans don’t have much depth at tailback behind a banged-up Silas Redd. Edge: USC

Special teams: UCLA needs Jeff Locke to limit Marqise Lee, whose 29.43 yards per kick return leads the Pac-12. The Bruins counter with Damien Thigpen, fully healthy after a minor knee sprain. Freshman kicker Ka’imi Fairbairn has been reliable for the Bruins from short range, but has yet to make a field goal from beyond 35 yards. If UCLA needs a game-winner on the final drive, well … Edge: UCLA, slightly.

Players to Watch: Lee, for the aforementioned reasons. Also, UCLA linebacker Anthony Barr. The reigning Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Week has been on a mission lately. Last week’s line: 8 tackles, 4 tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks, a safety. USC will protect better than WSU, but Barr is a future NFL talent that is a guaranteed weekly highlight reel. It’ll be fun to watch what the conference’s leader in sacks does against a team that has allowed 14 sacks — not impenetrable, but still good for second best in the Pac-12.

X-factor: How much will the coaching staff matter? Lane Kiffin is a crack recruiter, but has failed to prove his mettle at any stop he’s made across the country. Hard to see him out-strategizing Mora, who was apparently tailor-made to head this UCLA squad. Still, USC has more talent, and it’s not a game that requires much added motivation from up top.

Prediction: USC 38, UCLA 35. The Bruins are trying to end a five-year losing streak, but Southern Cal needs this win to avoid a spectacular crash of a season.

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