Ready for an encore
LAS VEGAS — Josh Rosen made a lot of headlines in his debut for No. 13 UCLA. Now his hits the road with the Bruins for the first time to see what he can do for an encore in the glow of Las Vegas.
"We don't really celebrate individual achievements around here, we talk about team achievements," UCLA coach Jim Mora said as the Bruins prepared to face UNLV. "Josh has shown real good humility this week. I think he realizes that was one game, and one game does not make a career. He's like everybody else, he has a lot of work to do."
Rosen warmed up for today's game in Las Vegas by completing 28 of 35 passes for 351 yards and three touchdowns in a 34-16 season-opening victory over Virginia. It earned him national attention and a lot of accolades.
Both Mora and new UNLV coach Tony Sanchez know the Bruins are much more than the 18-year-old that some believe might be the best quarterback in Westwood since Troy Aikman was calling signals.
"I understand what a great quarterback he is, there's a reason he's one of the top quarterbacks coming out of high school," Sanchez said. "But it's not just about him, he's got some incredible pieces around him. UCLA is a very talented team so he doesn't have to do too much. He just has to manage the game and distribute the ball to his athletes and we have to stop him."
That might be a problem.
In last week's 38-30 loss at Northern Illinois, the Rebels allowed 545 yards to the Huskies, 360 of them through the air. Nevertheless, Sanchez was optimistic his Rebels would respond to the Bruins.
"Your biggest growth you're ever gonna have is from week one to week two, it's pretty much a staple at any level," Sanchez said. "We have to continue to play with the same passion and toughness we did last week."
Though BYU is on deck for the Bruins next week, Mora isn't taking the Rebels lightly. He said he's read reports on Sanchez's first game with UNLV, and all were glowing for the rookie head coach in terms of having the Rebels prepared and how he's transitioned from the high school ranks to the college sidelines.
"I think sometimes we mischaracterize football coaches because of the level they're at," Mora said. "Whether they're high school, college or pro — good football coaches are good football coaches — and Tony's a good football coach."
Some things to watch for when Rosen and UCLA visit UNLV:
NON-CONFERENCE DOMINANCE: UCLA is now on a 12-1 run in non-conference play, having won nine straight since losing to Baylor in the 2012 Holiday Bowl. The Bruins have won all 10 regular-season non-conference games under Mora, with an average margin of victory being 20.2 points per game.
DOUBLE DECKER: Lost in Rosen's spotlight leading up to today has been UNLV's Blake Decker, who became just the third Rebel quarterback to start back-to-back season openers in the last 12 years. The 24-year-old completed 21 of 39 attempts for 319 yards, with two TDs and one interception. After one week, he leads all Mountain West quarterbacks in passing yards.
RANKED STRUGGLES: UNLV has played 37 ranked teams all time, and has never defeated one of them at home (0-16). The 13th-ranked Bruins are the first ranked team to visit Sam Boyd Stadium since No. 5 Boise State in 2011. The last time UNLV defeated an AP ranked team was in 2008, when it upset No. 15 Arizona State 23-20 in overtime.
GOING THE EXTRA MILE: UCLA standout linebacker Myles Jack was the first player in Pac-12 Conference history to be selected both Freshman Offensive and Defensive Player of the Year two years ago. He scored his 11th career offensive touchdown against the Cavaliers, so it will be interesting to see how Mora utilizes his two-way star.
FAMILIAR FACE: Rosen has faced a Sanchez-coached team before. He starred for St. John Bosco High School in Bellflower, California, last season when the Braves lost at national powerhouse Bishop Gorman High School, where Sanchez coached before jumping to UNLV for this season.