The day after UCLA lost to USC, ending its chance at the Pac-12 Conference title, Coach Jim Mora was sitting on his couch. He was, he said, “in the tank.”
Without warning, in walked quarterback Josh Rosen. The previous day, the freshman had thrown two interceptions and had a fumble returned for a touchdown.
And there he was in Mora’s living room.
“Didn’t even knock,” Mora said. “Just walked into the house and laid down on the couch next to me and said, ‘We got it. We’ll be all right. We’ll get over it.’ ”
Rosen has not had many opportunities to get over a bad performance. Other than the USC loss, he has experienced only one game in which he threw more interceptions than touchdowns, and UCLA beat Brigham Young in that game.
So it remained something of an unknown: how would Rosen handle the performance against the Trojans? Mora and Rosen’s teammates say he has bounced back quickly.
“I don’t see him taking any steps back,” running back Paul Perkins said.
Center Jake Brendel said he is “really not worried about him at all.”
UCLA did not make Rosen available to the media Monday.
Rosen stayed at Mora’s house for about an hour. They watched NFL games on television. They talked about football. They discussed what had gone wrong the day before.
Bowl practice begins
UCLA held its first bowl practice Saturday and began preparing Monday for Nebraska, its opponent in the Dec. 26 Foster Farms Bowl.
Typically, teams spend the week before a game practicing against an opponent’s tendencies, but Mora said he has found the extra preparation can be helpful before a hectic bowl week.
One other plus, he hopes, will be the status of his injury-riddled team.
Although he didn’t give specifics, Mora said that “most of the guys should be ready to go for the bowl game.”
But the offensive line was not at full strength. Mora said Cristian Garcia, a walk-on, practiced with the starters at left guard. The regular starter, Kenny Lacy, was injured during the USC game.
Russell Westbrook gives back
Russell Westbrook has made what UCLA called the largest financial contribution by a former Bruins basketball player, the school announced.
Westbrook’s donation will go toward the construction of the Mo Ostin Basketball Center, and the school announced that the new practice court would be named “Russell Westbrook Court.” Westbrook declined to say how much he had donated.
Westbrook played at UCLA from 2006 to 2008 and the Bruins reached the Final Four both seasons. He is now a four-time All-Star with the NBA’s Oklahoma City Thunder.
“A kid like me growing up in inner-city Los Angeles, I never thought I’d be playing at UCLA,” Westbrook said. “Whenever I have an opportunity to give back to the place I went to and the school that took care of me, I think it’s a good opportunity.”