Yogi Roth: UCLA football is as ‘gifted’ as any team in the Pac-12

UCLA began practicing again on its Westwood campus on Monday, Aug. 24. (Scott Tarley/Staff)

The Pac-12 Networks crew arrived at UCLA on Tuesday — their latest stop on their preseason tour around the conference — and analyst Yogi Roth took some time to share a few of his thoughts on the Bruins.

How does UCLA compare to the other teams you’ve seen across the conference?

“Deepest team in the Pac-12 conference, I think, all across the board. You hear 18 starters? It’s really more like 20, 21 starters. Not even including special teams. I would’ve picked them to win the Pac-12 if we had an answer at the position that matters the most. And they’ll figure that out. … But they are gifted, man. I mean, when I saw last year on ‘The Drive,’ seeing the build and the youth — the year before that they played 12 true freshmen, I think. (Note: UCLA actually played 18 true freshmen in 2013.) This year, maybe two, maybe three guys are gonna play? You just have crazy depth. …

“This is my 15th year in major college football. I’ve never seen players work for a head coach like they work for Jim. I’ve never seen the admiration that they have. I think he’s got something really brewing here. And if they can get consistent play at the quarterback position — and I think those two guys should do it — they’re as gifted as anybody.”

What do you think of the quarterback competition between Jerry Neuheisel and Josh Rosen?

“In San Bernardino last week, I saw Jerry have full command of the offense. I talked to him this summer, he said this offseason was the best of his life. And you have that when you have your opportunity. I remember as a player, we all went through that. When you get your chance to be the guy, it’s just different. It just is. He led all the workouts. He’s clearly the leader of this team. Whether that means he starts or not, I don’t know. But I saw a guy that was in total command of the offense. A guy that is saying, ‘I know you’re playing well, Josh, but I’m still here.’ He hasn’t given up the job.

“You look at Josh, and I’ve said this a bunch of times, I think he’s the most gifted quarterback in this conference, top to bottom. I know what that means. He may not be ready to play yet. But if you ask the quarterback gods to build somebody, they’d build Josh Rosen. I don’t know what Troy Aikman looked like at his age, but I just imagine it very similarly. I’ve known Josh a long time. His functional football intelligence is on par with Jerry’s. Jerry grew up with a coach. Josh is a savant, mentally. But he’s a first-time starter as a freshman, from the jump. I would expect both of them to play, because I think both probably earned it.”

Does it affect the offense not to have a starting quarterback named yet this close to the start of the season?

“I don’t think so. I think one of the biggest misnomers in college football is the fact that we talk about players as leaders. Continue reading “Yogi Roth: UCLA football is as ‘gifted’ as any team in the Pac-12” »