Josh Rosen willed his way back into UCLA’s game against Arizona State on Saturday, even if he could not coax a victory for the Bruins after being sidelined again in the final minutes.
UCLA Coach Jim Mora said Monday he expected his quarterback to be equally involved in determining his own status against Washington State.
“He doesn’t want to let anyone down and he loves to compete,” Mora said, “so I’d be surprised if he doesn’t do everything he can to be back on the field Saturday night.”
Mora said he was hopeful that Rosen could play against the Cougars after returning last weekend from a lower-body injury he sustained in the second quarter only to suffer an apparent throwing-shoulder injury on a sack with about 3 1/2 minutes left in the game.
Rosen completed 24 of 43 passes for a career-high 400 yards and two touchdowns with one interception, numbers that were less impressive than his resolve during the 23-20 defeat.
“He’s one of those young men that’s so competitive that he kind of willed himself into a situation where he tried to mentally overcome the pain that he was feeling and he did,” said Mora, who would not specify Rosen’s injuries. “That’s what great competitors do. And then late in the game, he took a shot and we just couldn’t get him back in after that.”
Mora said the Bruins would give backup quarterback Mike Fafaul more repetitions in practice this week if Rosen was limited over the next few days. The drop-off between Rosen and Fafaul became apparent against Arizona State after Fafaul completed only three of 11 passes for 44 yards with two interceptions, though repeated breakdowns in blocking and an inability to run the ball also contributed to Fafaul’s struggles.
“Sometimes it’s a back not picking up the right guy, sometimes it’s the receiver not running the right route so the quarterback has to hold it, and sometimes it’s the quarterback not getting the right read and not delivering the ball on time and holding it for too long,” Mora said. “It’s all of those things, and we’ve got to get better and we’ve got to regain our mojo and our confidence and that’s hard to do.”
Mora acknowledged that his confidence in the running game was shaken. The Bruins are averaging only 99.2 yards per game and 2.95 yards per carry, both figures ranking among the worst in major college football.
“You’ve got to find a way to be critical and self-critique and demanding and honest with yourself,” Mora said, “but at the same time you’ve gotta find a way to build confidence back. That’s tricky.”
UCLA (3-3 overall, 1-2 Pac-12) faces a pivotal week after starting the conference portion of its schedule 1-2 for the fourth time in its five seasons under Mora. History says the Bruins will rebound because they have never fallen to 1-3 in that situation and came back to win the Pac-12’s South Division in 2012.
Barring injury, Mora said he expected all of his running backs to be available against Washington State after tailback Bolu Olorunfunmi did not accompany the Bruins for their game against Arizona State for undisclosed reasons. … Right tackle Kolton Miller continued to tool around campus on a scooter with one foot elevated in a cast, but Mora said Miller would eventually return from the injury he sustained against Arizona on Oct. 1. “You’ll see him again this season,” Mora said, “it’s just a matter of when. It’s a pain thing.” … Mora said he expected defensive end Takkarist McKinley and safety Jaleel Wadood to be able to return from the injuries that forced them out of the game against the Sun Devils. … UCLA’s game against Utah on Oct. 22 at the Rose Bowl will start at 1 p.m. and be televised by Fox.