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UCLA’s season will come down to Mike Fafaul’s accuracy

(Photo by Chris Williams/Icon Sportswire)

Chosen Josh Rosen is no more, at least in regards to the remainder of UCLA football’s 2016 season.

Unfortunately, the sophomore quarterback from Manhattan Beach, Calif., was injured in UCLA’s 23-20 loss to Arizona State in early October, and the school recently confirmed that Rosen won’t be able to play for the rest of the season. He won’t undergo surgery, according to a report from Kyle Bonagura of ESPN, and he doesn’t have nerve damage in his shoulder.

With that said, the injury is obviously bad enough to keep him out for the rest of the season. Perhaps it’s a preventive move from UCLA — thinking about Rosen’s long-term future both with the Bruins and in the NFL — and head coach Jim Mora made it seem that way in a recent comment on the matter.

“We’re going to always do what’s best for our players and their long-term care, their long-term health, their long-term well-being,” Mora said, via Bonagura. “Sometimes that means protecting them from themselves.”

Perhaps Rosen’s sprit is willing, but his flesh is weak. There was also no timetable set for his recovery, so it’s tough to know.

The fact of the matter is that after a freshman season that saw him throw for 3,670 yards and 23 touchdowns (with 11 interceptions), Rosen’s sophomore campaign is officially over.

It died on the table.

That’s a disappointing fact, to say the least. Rosen was supposed to be one of the top quarterbacks in college football this season and UCLA had legitimate hopes of competing in the Pac-12 because of that.

Even before his injury, though, Rosen wasn’t all that great.

He led UCLA to just a 3-3 record, throwing for only 10 touchdowns while tossing five interceptions in the process, including three to start the season against then-unranked Texas A&M (the Aggies are now No. 4 in the new CFP rankings). For a player who was chosen to be the next great one for UCLA, it was a season that was anything but great. The former five-star couldn’t live up to the hype and he hit somewhat of a sophomore slump. Some may say he hit the sophomore wall.

But if Rosen hit the wall, his team backed up and hit it again with him on the sidelines. UCLA lost Rosen’s final game of the season, dropping a close one to ASU, 23-20. The Bruins have gone on to lose three more in a row, dropping games to Washington State, 27-21; Utah, 52-45; and Colorado, 20-10.

Redshirt senior Mike Fafaul has stepped in to replace Rosen and, well, it has been a bag of mixed results for the 6-foot-1, 199-pound signal-caller from Cockeysville, Md.

Against Washington State in Pullman, Fafaul did complete 24-of-40 passes for 258 yards and three touchdowns, which is the good. The bad? He also threw three interceptions, including one with 45 seconds to go in the game that effectively iced it for the Cougars. UCLA was down 21-27 when Fafaul was picked off by Charleston White.

It was more of the same for Fafaul against No. 19 Utah. The good? He threw for 464 yards and five touchdowns. Wow, the good in this instance is pretty good, right? Unfortunately, though, we haven’t mentioned the bad. Fafaul did throw the five scores, but he also was intercepted by the Utes four times and he fumbled once, for a total of five turnovers.

Last but not least during this stretch was Thursday night’s game against Colorado. Fafaul did throw a touchdown and 185 yards, but again, he was picked off.

So for those keeping score at home, Fafaul has thrown nine touchdowns and nine interceptions in UCLA’s past three games. He’s had a case of the good, bad and ugly for the Bruins, when even just a little bit more ball security could have been the difference between this four-game losing streak and a little bit of hope on the horizon. Remember, all of these games have been relatively close, so every offensive possession matters.

“It is terrible, I don’t like losing,” Fafaul said after the Colorado loss, according to Blair Angulo of Scout.com. “It is just hard right now but we are going to keep fighting. We are going to keep swinging till the last game.”

08 October 2016: UCLA Bruins quarterback Mike Fafaul (12) drops back to pass during the NCAA football game between the Arizona State Sun Devils and the UCLA Bruins at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, Ariz. (Photo by Carlos Herrera/Icon Sportswire)

(Photo by Carlos Herrera/Icon Sportswire)

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