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UCLA’s Rosen takes blame for his worst game, doesn’t give credit to USC defense

UCLA’s Rosen takes blame for his worst game, doesn’t give credit to USC defense

UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen is consoled by offfensive lineman Conor McDermott after having a pass intercepted by USC in the fourth quarter.

(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

Quarterback Josh Rosen was having a freshman moment on the UCLA sideline.

The clock was winding down and there was nothing left to do to change the outcome. USC was on its way to a 40-21 victory at the Coliseum on Saturday.

Rosen stood there, head down, arms folded. He shifted his weight and put hands on hips as if Simon said.

The mental pain was obvious. UCLA cornerback Fabian Moreau, his broken foot still in a cast, came up next to him and yanked on his pads while whispering a sweet something into his ear.

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“I just told him to keep his head up,” Moreau said. “There was going to be another day.”

That’s the lesson Rosen can take from what was his worst game of the season. He was harassed and battered throughout, and it took a toll.

Rosen had two passes picked off, ending his school record streak of 246 attempts without an interception. He fumbled in the third quarter, with defensive end Rasheem Green rumbling 31 yards for a touchdown to give USC a 26-21 lead it never relinquished.

And the Trojans did that all without changing up their defense.

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“Definitely, it kind of confused him,” receiver Thomas Duarte said. “They brought things we weren’t really ready for, that’s credit to them. His rhythm was a little off today. The whole day, we were trying to get it back.”

It never happened.

This was a different sort of defense than Rosen had seen this season. Cornerbacks Adoree’ Jackson and Iman Marshall and linebacker Su’a Cravens possess the type of closing speed NFL scouts drool over.

“We’ve never faced a team with that much athleticism,” Coach Jim Mora said.

It allowed USC to play man-to-man the whole game, while loading up the box to take away the run and pressure Rosen. He completed 19 of 37 passes for 227 yards. USC sacked him three times.

Chris Foster and Lindsey Thiry discuss UCLA’s 40-21 defeat by USC.

“He’s going through experiences that will do nothing but make him better,” offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone said. “It’s kind of like putting your hand on a hot stove. It hurts for a while, but you learn from it.”

Rosen already learned from being burnt.

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He blamed himself for plays. Rosen was a tad long on a pass to Jordan Payton in the end zone in the first half. He inadvertently tossed the ball to center Jake Brendel while being pressured.

And he took a sack on a third-down play just prior to Jackson returning a punt 42 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter.

“I blew a read,” Rosen said. “That would have changed the game. Chain of events happen quickly.”

What Rosen didn’t do was credit the defense too much.

“I just felt like we made that defense look better than it necessarily was,” Rosen said. “That’s not a shot at them at all. I just felt we didn’t execute.”

Asked what was different about USC’s defense compared to others he had seen, Rosen said, “Absolutely nothing. There were a lot plays I wish I could have back. I just didn’t play like myself.”

USC vs. UCLA: Complete coverage of the rivalry game

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His teammates, though, saw things a little differently.

“He looked flustered a little bit,” Duarte said. “The interceptions, the fumble, it got to him a little bit.”

Rosen was robotic postgame in answering what he could take from this game.

“The film,” Rosen said. But nothing “in terms of morale, spirit. You got the tape and see what you can do better.”

sports@latimes.com

Twitter: @cfosterworld


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