UCLA's Jim Mora Names Josh Rosen Starting QB

Aug. 26 -- UCLA head coach Jim Mora named Josh Rosen the starting quarterback on Wednesday...

Jim Mora named Josh Rosen the starting quarterback on Wednesday, picking the true freshman over redshirt junior Jerry Neuheisel.

Opening statement:

Today was a simulated Tuesday in-season practice. We started to work on Virginia today. And with that, we decided on a quarterback.  Before I tell you who it is, I'll say this, all three of those guys have competed their tails off and done everything we've asked them to do, and I'm talking from the start of winter, when we got into our offseason and through spring practice, through San Bernardino and through the last couple of days. I'm just so impressed with their character, their competitveness, the way they've supported each other in a competition.  I really can't say enough about those three guys.  We decided as a staff and announced to them, brought the quarterbacks in this morning, and Josh (Rosen) is going to be our starter against Virginia.  I want to say this about Jerry. I think we all recognize it came down to Josh and Jerry, but I want to say this, I don't know if you could find a better representative of what a student-athlete is supposed to be than Jerry Neuheisel. He is the epitome of a UCLA Bruin. He loves this school.  Its definitely important to him that he represent this school and his school in a positive way. It was obviously a very difficult thing for him to hear.  But he handled it very, very well.  I know he is extremely disappointed, he's worked very hard and done everything we've asked him to do.  I have so much respect for him. This is a young man that we all love. I love Jerry, his teammates love him, they respect him and trust him. Our staff loves him, trusts him and respects him.  Like I told him this morning when I was delivering the disappointing news, my hope was that some day, I could sit up in the stands at the Rose Bowl and watch him as the coach at UCLA. I think that is probably one of his dreams. He wants to be here.  He's one of the good things about college football.  But we had to make a decision and we made the decision to go with Josh. We're excited about that decision and we're looking forward to seeing him develop along with this team and offense. As I've said many times, whats encouraging about our team is we can run the football, we play good defense, we have good receivers that have some size.  Whoever was going to step into that position wasn't going to be asked to bear that burden. Its a little different situation from when Brett Hundley took over. We're excited about the direction we're going.  I felt, Noel felt, we felt that it was time to make that decision and go.

On what tipped the scales for Rosen:

I can't say there was one thing.  There are a million things. You evaluate everything, every little thing. I can't tell you there is a checklist.  At some point, it becomes apparant and you get a gut feeling.  You say its time to make that decision so lets go. So that's what we did.  

On if he'll play Neuheisel in situations:

Josh is our starting quarterback.  That's all I'm prepared to say.  I've made it very clear that I'm a one quarterback coach. You like to put a guy in that position, support the heck out of him, help him have some success and rally around him if he's struggling. That's what I'll do, that's what this staff will do.  Its more than about just one guy.  Fortunately, we have a good football team around him and I'm excited about this football team.

On testing Rosen in fall:

I think he did well.  Almost every period there was 30-40% pressure.  He's going against a really good defense. We have a good defense. I'm not saying we're perfect and we're not going to give up points and plays, because we are, that's football these days.  But for all our quarterbacks, its a great test every day. I thought Josh handled the pressure better every day and became less flustered and had a better understanding of where the ball goes and how to get it there.

On if he saw anything in practice today with Rosen:

No, and that's a good thing. Josh is very steady, as is Jerry and Mike, they're very steady in their personalities. They're not up and down. When things go well or don't go well, he's the same guy and that's a determined guy, a guy that has emotional stability and that's one of the things that's impressive about him.  Besides his physical talent its his emotional makeup.

On Rosen's reaction when told the news:

Casually, like you would think. Not 'oh yeah, I knew I had it', obviously he was excited and asked if he could go call his mom and dad and I said absolutely. His was a little easier than telling Jerry and Mike, especially Jerry.

On if he hoped that Rosen would show up ready:

When you're recruiting the No. 1 ranked quarterback in the country, you hope he lives up to that billing.  Now we haven't played one single snap of real football, but at this point, he's living up to this billing. I can't ever say we hope that one guy rises above any other, we just hope that someone presents themselves as the starter and make it clear that it was time to make a decision.

On if he hoped he'd make that high school to college transition:

Absolutely, and he did. He's shown that ability. We have to all keep this in mind, this is a true freshman who's going to go out and play some good teams this year and there will be some plays that are frustrating and some plays that are dumbfounding but also some great plays.  We'll see him develop through the years, and he has great coaching and great coaches and great guys supporting him in the room.  Most notably Jerry who will be in his ear all the time helping him and he's got a heck of a team around him.  I'm excited about him.

On if they have to manage with the team naming a newcomer the starter:

I don't think so. I think they have so much respect for Jerry and I think they have a ton of respect for Josh too, he's been her winter, spring and summer, so they know him.  Its not like he just showed up 2-3 weeks ago, so him being an early admit helped. I think over the course of the last two months, they've gotten to know him and they like him and respect him.  Jerry, regardless of if he's the starting quarterback or not, will always be a leader on this team.  Kids gravitate towards him.  Two years ago, three years ago, 2-3 years ago, I remember walking out on the field one day on a Saturday and not remembering the team was out there, Jerry is playing country music and everyone was out dancing.  His pants rolled up.  He's got these innate leadership qualities about him.  They'll see a guy in Jerry who respects this decision and will do what he can to help his team.

On what his expectations for Rosen are:

I haven't gotten that far yet.

On if they have captains yet:

No.

On how they told the team about the quarterbacks:

I didn't tell the team.  I wouldn't tell the team if we had a switch at left guard or nose tackle or inside linebacker or corner. So I didn't tell them.  I just didn't think, that's not how we do things here. Its about team. Certainly that's a high profile position and an important position. But that doesn't mean we have a team meeting and announce it to them, we don't really do that at all.  Its about us and not that one single guy.  

On if the team figured it out during practice:

I don't have any idea. I talked to one guy, and that was Jordan Payton. And I said, 'did you know I talked to the quarterbacks' and he said 'yep' and that was the end of it. Our guys are focused on doing the best at their jobs. I think that is a real positive sign. They're going to worry about the best they could be and not the peripheral stuff around.

On the access to Josh Rosen:

You're not going to get him at all. You'll get him tomorrow. He won't be your Monday guy like Brett was.  It's different.  You'll get the captains. I know we play Virginia September 5th. At the Rose Bowl. 12:35.  

On if the decision was made to give Rosen time to get acclimated:

I think Josh is pretty good at handling that stuff, but I think it does. I go back to what Bill Walsh told me about these decisions, the sooner you make it and let everyone acclimate to it, the guy who's going to be the starter, get use to him being the starter. The guy who's going to be in the huddle, get used to him being in the huddle.  The guys who've got told the disappointing news, they settle in to their role instead of a distraction during game week or work through emotional issues. Do it now so everyone can be a little more comfortable on Monday when we dig into our preparation for that first game.

On if they considered not publicly announcing it:

No, it would have gotten out and I would rather give you guys the opportunity to ask questions and me to answer. And talking to Josh, Ray Donovan, it felt like the best thing to do.


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