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Arizona needs to improve pass rush, downfield coverage vs. UCLA, Josh Rosen

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The Wildcats are coming off a rough weekend defensively

Texas A&M v UCLA Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

Nobody has thrown for more passing yards in the FBS this season than UCLA Bruins quarterback Josh Rosen.

The junior, widely projected to be the No. 1 pick in April’s NFL Draft, has logged 2,135 yards through the air, with 17 touchdowns to just five interceptions in five games.

And the Arizona Wildcats will get to see him up close this weekend, as they host UCLA on Saturday at 6 p.m. MST.

“He can throw, and is intelligent and athletic,” said UA head coach Rich Rodriguez. “He will make subtle movements in the pocket to buy some time, and make that good pass down the field.

“They are never out of a game and it is no question he will be a top NFL draft pick. I have been impressed with his toughness in addition to his intelligence and football knowledge. A guy that can throw like that, and understand football like that, is always going to be tough to defend.”

The Wildcats are coming off their worst defensive performance of the season, surrendering 42 points in a win vs. the Colorado Buffaloes.

CU quarterback Steven Montez was 19 for 32 for 251 yards and three touchdowns — and his line could have been even better than that, had he not missed several throws deep down the field.

Rodriguez thought Arizona’s cornerbacks were “solid” against Colorado, but didn’t think UA’s pass rush was effective enough, despite the Wildcats tallying a season-high four sacks.

“We just didn’t put enough pressure on the quarterback. ... We were sending a lot five-man pressures that weren’t getting close,” Rodriguez said.

Which has to change with Rosen coming to town.

“We’ve gotta work on that part of it, because if we don’t, Rosen will obviously pick us apart,” Rodriguez said. “We’ve gotta get better at our pressure, but we’ve also gotta do a better job of holding some things down the field.”

Last year, Rosen was 20-37 for 350 yards and three touchdowns in a 45-20 win over Arizona. The year before, Rosen was 19 for 28 for 284 yards and two touchdowns.

The UCLA signal-caller has torched Arizona, and so have the Bruins as a whole. UCLA has won the last five matchups against the Wildcats.

“We haven’t played well against them,” Rodriguez said. “They have very good players, both now and historically. The coaching staff at UCLA does an outstanding job, but we just haven’t played well against them. It’s the game every year where you look back and just say, ‘Wow, we did not play well against UCLA.’

“It has been frustrating, and I have mentioned it to the team, but those are in the past. We are looking forward to a good game this weekend.”


Follow Ryan Kelapire on Twitter at @RKelapire