UCLA's Josh Rosen wants to identify go-to receiver
LOS ANGELES (AP) UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen completed passes to 13 different wide receivers, tight ends, running backs and fullbacks against UNLV.
Rosen would like to be able to pare that number down on third down, starting Saturday night at BYU.
Rosen wants to identify a go-to receiver he can trust, someone he can rely on to fill the same role Jordan Payton and Thomas Duarte had during his freshman season. Payton and Duarte combined for 45 percent of Rosen's completions, 54 percent of his yards passing, and caught 15 of his 23 touchdown passes.
Rosen could rely on Payton and Duarte to move the chains on third down, when opposing defenses are more likely to blitz and leave receivers in one-on-one coverage. When that happens, Rosen said, a quarterback will lean on the receiver he trusts most.
''That is when you rely less on scheme and more on playmakers,'' Rosen said. ''When you are second-guessing yourself on matchups because you don't know who exactly is the dude, that will slow you down.''
It doesn't help that the inexperienced but talented group of receivers trying to replace Payton and Duarte have struggled with drops in the Bruins' first two games, notably on the deep ball. A 62-yard touchdown pass to Kenneth Walker at Texas A&M is Rosen's only completion longer than 30 yards so far.
Rosen took the blame for those struggles, saying the quarterback has a responsibility to help everyone around him on offense perform at a higher level.
''If he's not catching the ball I'm not throwing it right, so we got to fix something,'' Rosen said.
An unlikely candidate emerged as the steady presence for Rosen in the 42-21 win over the Rebels. Converted defensive back Ishmael Adams, a redshirt senior who moved over to offense during spring practices, had three of his team-high four receptions on third or fourth down to keep touchdown drives moving and also rushed for a third-down conversion.
Adams started 34 games as a cornerback or nickel back over the previous three seasons and that veteran's savvy has helped him make a successful transition.
''I'm in the meeting room with him, he's a smart player, too,'' wide receiver Mossi Johnson said. ''He knows about defense and offense, and he is bringing his whole swagger into the receiving corps which is allowing us to be better as a group.''