Josh Rosen gets first test-drive as UCLA’s quarterback

UCLA quarterbacks Jerry Neuheisel, left, and Josh Rosen talk during the Bruins' spring practice opener on Tuesday.

UCLA quarterbacks Jerry Neuheisel, left, and Josh Rosen talk during the Bruins’ spring practice opener on Tuesday.

(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

Josh Rosen was handed the keys to UCLA’s offense for the first time in 11-on-11 non-contact drills Thursday.

There were freshman mistakes.

He had a pass intercepted. There was a muffed exchange on a handoff. But overall, those were merely bumps in his overall performance.


Rosen, who played at Bellflower St. John Bosco High last fall, made several crisp passes. He wasn’t asked to throw downfield much, but he handled the reads he needed to make.

It was another step in a quarterback competition that involves mostly Rosen, Jerry Neuheisel and Asiantii Woulard. The plan for now is to have two quarterbacks take the reps in 11-on-11 drills each day. Rosen and Mike Fafaul took their turn Thursday.

Rosen has been sequestered from the media until the end of spring practice, but Neuheisel said that the winner of the quarterback competition will have to show teammates he deserves to be in charge.

“I think by earning the job, you earn the respect of your teammates,” Neuheisel said. “Your teammates assume that the job won’t be given to you. If you earn it, you look like a leader.”

As for the competition itself, Neuheisel said, “This is about finding the guy who can make the offense play well. We have to learn to be more consistent. We saw glimpses of what it can do, but we saw it get stuck sometimes.”

No matter who wins the competition, Neuheisel said, “it’s all about what’s best for the team. We all talk and help each other, making sure I’m ready to go or Josh is ready to go or Asiantii is ready to go. It’s all about finding the right guy under center.”

New boss

There will be few changes to how the Bruins approach defense, first-year coordinator Tom Bradley said.

Bradley said the Bruins would use schemes similar to what they have the last three seasons, but “we’ll add different wrinkles that I did in the past.”

Bradley was defensive coordinator at Penn State from 2000-11.

The biggest thing, Bradley said, is learning the personnel.

“I try to not get any preconceived notions about the players,” Bradley said. “I have watched [UCLA] games on my own, but I do it to get a different feel about things. I don’t watch with staff members because I want to form my own opinion and give everyone a fresh chance.”

The hardest thing, Bradley said, “is everyone getting on the same page with communication. They have to figure out what I call different things. The learning curve is probably mostly on me.”

As for facing the eclectic offenses in the Pac-12 Conference, Bradley said he got a taste of those in the Big Ten, and even a greater dose facing Big 12 teams as West Virginia’s defensive coordinator last season.

“Football is a copycat game,” Bradley said. “It has changed, and it certainly has changed how we practice it. The pace of practice has changed. The way football is played, sideline to sideline, is different.”

Temporary digs

UCLA will be forced off Spaulding Field in the fall, as work is expected to begin on a new football facility in the coming months. After returning from training camp in San Bernardino, the Bruins will practice on an intramural field near Drake Stadium.

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