Top Performer: Josh Rosen
I mean, there really wasn't any other option. Rosen wasn't quite as spectacular as he was last spring, when he walked into Noel Mazzone's offense as if he had been running a slightly more complex version for years at St. John Bosco, but he was still far and away the best quarterback on the team. While he looked to be off on his timing with his receivers through the first couple of weeks especially, he seemed to hit a rhythm over the last week and a half. Receivers who hadn't been involved much to that point started to get targeted much more, which could have been equal parts them playing better and Rosen also becoming more comfortable in the new offense. There were enough positive signs over the last two weeks that we're pretty confident in Rosen's ability to master this offense heading into the season.
Most Improved: N/A
But really, it's Rosen again.
The reason there isn't a most improved player is really a matter of circumstance. Mike Fafaul pretty much is who he is at this point: a pretty competent quarterback whose arm strength comes and goes and who isn't a starting-level Pac-12 quarterback. As we said about Jerry Neuheisel for a while, in an ideal world, Fafaul wouldn't be a second-string guy either -- you ideally want your second-string quarterback to be a potential starter. That said, Fafaul had a pretty good last week of spring ball, enough to fend off, for the time being, the other main contender for the backup job this spring, freshman Matt Lynch.
Lynch, for his part, doesn't count for most improved since this was the first time we'd ever seen him. He did get better as the spring wore on, though, and looked like he might even be edging ahead of Fafaul in the backup competition during a solid third week. He wasn't quite as good during the final week, but there were some obvious positive signs during the spring. Despite having a shorter motion than you'd expect for a guy that long, Lynch threw with pretty good arm strength all spring, and after Marques Tuiasosopo spent some time with him to improve his motion, the ball started to pop a little bit more. There's some upside there, but he'll need to continue to fill out and improve his accuracy.
And that's really it as far as the quarterback depth chart, which is the main problem. For years, UCLA has struggled with quarterback recruiting, and it seems like every season, we're going into the year wondering who UCLA can count on if the starter goes down. Fafaul isn't an ideal candidate as a backup, as we wrote above, and Lynch, while we think he could develop into a good player down the road, probably isn't going to be ready to play by the time fall rolls around. That leaves Devon Modster and, potentially, Dymond Lee as the remaining options to seize the backup quarterback job.
Rosen is very good, and we'd anticipate him shining in this offense before too long has passed. But the difference between this offense being potentially pretty good and this offense almost certainly bad hinges almost entirely on his good health. If the offensive line can keep him upright, and Rosen himself can avoid injuries, then the Bruins should be more than competent on the offensive end. However, the depth chart is in such poor shape that any hopes for a big season rest almost entirely on Rosen's good health.
Projected Fall Depth Chart
Quarterback: Rosen, Modster, Fafaul, Lynch, Lee