UCLA offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone evades quarterback question

UCLA offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone evades quarterback question
UCLA quarterback Jerry Neuheisel, shown during the first day of summer camp, had a big day in seven-on-seven drills on Tuesday. (Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

Two days into training camp and everyone was all too eager to dissect the UCLA quarterback competition with offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone. The frenzy will only increase once the Bruins actually get into pads this week.

There is only one question that needs to be answered.


Who's your quarterback?

"It's 91 degrees with 15% humidity," Mazzone said.

Josh Rosen?

"Don't know," Mazzone said.

And that probably will be the drill for weeks to come.

Even if the coaching staff admitted to having an inkling at this point — Rosen looked impressive during spring practice — they would keep it to themselves. Quarterback competitions are good — for quarterbacks.

All you have to do is ask junior Jerry Neuheisel, who is vying for the job along with Rosen, a freshman from Bellflower St. John Bosco High.

Neuheisel signaled plays to Brett Hundley the last two seasons. Hundley is now with the Green Bay Packers.

"I miss Brett and I wish him all best with the Green Bay Packers," Neuheisel said. "It's weird not having him here, because he was here for so long. But I'm not going to lie to you, it's a little bit more fun without him."

Neuheisel threw two long touchdown passes to Kenneth Walker Jr. in seven-on-seven drills Tuesday.

"There is a lot more to do," Neuheisel said. "I don't have to stand on the sidelines and signal the whole time. I get to go in with [the first team] every now and then. So that's pretty cool."

Whether Neuheisel is getting a long look, or a real look, remains to be seen. Rosen, rated by some recruiting analysts as the top high school quarterback in the nation last season, was equally effective in the seven-on-seven drills.

Mazzone, though, isn't giving anything away, not after two days.

"We're two practices closer [to a decision]," Mazzone said. "That's a good answer, come on.


"We're in shorts and T-shirts. Let's get in some practices here, get into a little grind and get into situations. Then we'll see who performs the best."

On the run

There are things junior running back Paul Perkins cares about.

"I just want to be the best running back in the nation and win the national championship," he said.

And there are things that he pushes from his mind.

Perkins' breakout season in 2014, where he gained 1,575 yards and led the Pac-12 Conference in rushing, has him more than halfway to the UCLA record held by Johnathan Franklin.

Franklin gained 4,620 yards from 2009 to 2012, punctuated by a school-record 1,734 yards in 2012. Perkins, with two seasons remaining, has 2,445 yards.

"I can't think about that, I'd get lost in the sauce," Perkins said. "You can't get lost in the sauces."

Added Perkins: "Obviously, if I do get it, that would be awesome."

Rough start

Chris Clark, considered by some analysts as the top prep tight end in the nation last season at Old Farms High in Avon, Conn., made his first appearance at training camp. It was a learning experience.

Clark, who is recovering from mononucleosis, appeared before the start of practice in street clothes and was blistered by Coach Jim Mora.

Mora was angry about Clark being late and for having his cell phone at practice. Clark tried to explain, which extended the expletive-laced admonishment for about 10 minutes.

It was a message that was unlikely to be lost on Clark, who should figure prominently for UCLA, which has seldom used a tight end the last two seasons.

"We put some things in we haven't been able to run the last couple years, like what we actually call runs and hand the ball off," Mazzone said, jokingly.