Unfazed by the big moment, bright lights or the unfriendly confines of Arizona Stadium, young Josh Rosen has once again proven that he is capable of leading this UCLA team to a Pac-12 Championship. He may have fallen victim to the pressure in his first night game against BYU last week, but showed some relentless poise in an even more hostile environment in a division game.
In the first half against BYU, Rosen showed some freshman struggles going 5-12 for 52 yards and three interceptions. What a difference a week makes, showing his growth and maturity as a player. Against Arizona it was a totally different story as he was 13-17 for 212 yards and two touchdowns. It helped that UCLA started their first four possessions on the positive side of the field due to turnovers and great special teams play from returner Devin Fuller.
The emotions of playing at home isn’t always a positive. You must hope it doesn’t overwhelm your team from a coaching standpoint, the home crowd can give a team life but negative momentum can be unyielding resulting in a downforce like an avalanche. Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez and his team got buried in the desert.
The Wildcats were haunted by bad snaps including a few on their opening drive leading to an Anu Solomon touchdown pass to Nate Phillips to put the Wildcats up early. The wheels seem to just come off the bus. Turnovers, field position and an unrelenting running back who seemed to have no mercy on the Arizona defense that appeared to not want to tackle; Paul Perkins who finished with 85 yards and 3 touchdowns; helped his UCLlA Bruins score touchdowns on 6 of their 7 possessions in the first half.
Arizona standout linebacker and last season’s conference defensive player of the year Scooby Wright was playing in his first game since his injury in the first week of this season. As expected Wright showed a bit of rust. Missing a few routine tackles while being subbed in-and-out of the game, he couldn’t help his team stop the bleeding.
With Solomon going down with a neck injury and possible concussion, back up quarterback Jerrard Randall tried to ignite a spark and get momentum back in the Wildcats favor. He provided a bit of relief with a 39-yard touchdown run on the play directly after Solomon went down..
Three turnovers , with two of them on your side of the field giving the opposition possession in plus territory coupled with an offense with little confidence doesn’t help the cause. The Bruins scored 21 points off of the three Wildcats turnovers in the first half giving them a 42-14 halftime lead. The deficit was too much for the Wildcats to overcome. Solomon’s injury hurt their offense mightily, as there was no passing game for Randall to mix in with the zone-read to keep UCLA honest. The Bruins had too much o f a cushion for Arizona to overcome in the end.