Col­lege foot­ball,

The Daily Herald - - SPORTS - By Dan Greenspan

LOS AN­GE­LES — UCLA quar­ter­back Josh Rosen doesn’t ex­pect to be both­ered by one of the big­gest, loud­est crowds in col­lege foot­ball when the Bru­ins open their sea­son at Texas A&M on Sat­ur­day.

Kyle Field can hold 102,733, the fourth-largest ca­pac­ity of any Amer­i­can sta­dium. Mid­night Yell Prac­tice is a col­lege foot­ball tra­di­tion, as tens of thou­sands of fans at­tend an event the night be­fore games that is equal parts pep rally and in­struc­tional sem­i­nar on how to make as much noise as pos­si­ble.

But Rosen isn’t wor­ried about the No. 16 Bru­ins’ ears when they visit the Ag­gies.

“I mean, af­ter like 50,000 it all sounds the same — or doesn’t sound the same, be­cause you re­ally don’t hear any­thing,” Rosen said. “The best ex­am­ple is against Utah (last sea­son). We scored the first drive and it got a lot qui­eter af­ter that. So if we can open with a state­ment or get up on them early, then the crowd won’t re­ally be a fac­tor.”

De­spite an off­sea­son’s worth of fo­cus on his ac­tions away from the field rather than his 3,668 yards pass­ing and 23 touch­downs as a fresh­man, Rosen was his usual out­spo­ken self on Tues­day when ques­tioned about ev­ery­thing from the touted Texas A&M pass rush to star Ag­gies wide re­ceiver Chris­tian Kirk to the mus­tache the sopho­more is cur­rently grow­ing.

Ju­nior de­fen­sive end Myles Gar­rett is a cur­rent fa­vorite to be the first non-quar­ter­back se­lected in the 2017 NFL draft, hav­ing ac­counted for 24 sacks, 33.5 tack­les for loss and five forced fum­bles in two sea­sons. Se­nior de­fen­sive end Daeshon Hall had four sacks and two forced fum­bles in last sea­son’s opener against Ari­zona State, while de­fen­sive tackle Day­lon Mack had 9.5 tack­les for loss as a fresh­man.

Yet Rosen wouldn’t ar­bi­trar­ily rank the Texas A&M de­fen­sive line above or be­low any other he faced last sea­son. He did hint that UCLA plans to go af­ter a run de­fense that al­lowed 213.7 yards rush­ing per game, 107th in the FBS and sec­ond-to-last in the SEC.

“They’re as good as a lot of teams we played,” Rosen said. “I think we’re go­ing to have an ad­van­tage or an abil­ity to run the foot­ball this year to be able to neu­tral­ize that. We think there are a few chinks in their ar­mor that we are go­ing to be able to ex­ploit. They are never as good as they are hyped up to be or never as bad as peo­ple say they are, so you’ve al­ways got to re­spect the de­fense, but don’t over- or un­der-re­spect them.”

Rosen did pro­fess re­spect for Kirk, the Scotts­dale, Ari­zona, stand­out who chose Texas A&M over mul­ti­ple Pac12 schools as a re­cruit and jus­ti­fied his five-star billing as the SEC New­comer of the Year. Rosen called Kirk a friend from their time to­gether on the sum­mer camp cir­cuit, and he thought UCLA would se­cure his ser­vices.

Kirk had 925 yards re­ceiv­ing, six TD catches and two punt re­turns for touch­downs as a fresh­man. Rosen cred­ited Kirk’s nat­u­ral abil­ity to bal­ance run­ning a play as de­signed while still ex­ploit­ing cov­er­ages, com­par­ing that to what he called the “chalk­board routes” some re­ceivers at­tempt.

“There are cer­tain guys that run very ro­botic routes. He re­ally had a feel for how to move a DB off his ground, how to get cer­tain win­dows, and once he had the ball in his hands he was just a run­ning back, he was just in­cred­i­bly phys­i­cal and ex­plo­sive,” Rosen said.


UCLA quar­ter­back Josh Rosen throws against Ne­braska dur­ing on Dec. 26, 2015, in Santa Clara, Calif.

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