The UCLA Bruins football team were picked to win the Pac-12 South in a vote of the league's media, and the lofty expectations all come back to one thing.
The reasoning is Rosen.
The sophomore quarterback, a starter since his first game last season and certainly one of the most arm-talented passers in college football, could very well be the difference in a division race in which USC, Utah and Arizona State are breaking in new quarterbacks this season.
"Josh has a chance to be very, very special," said UCLA coach Jim Mora.
"He's a talented young man. He's very, very smart. He has a great feel for the game, both offensively and defensively. He can make all the throws. And it's up to him how great he becomes. It'll be determined by his work ethic, by his ability to learn and adapt, and he's shown a willingness to do all of those things."
Rosen, who completed 292 of 487 passes last season for 3,668 yards, will have to adapt a bit this season.
The Bruins' attack is now under new coordinator Kennedy Polamalu, who will use more of a smash-mouth approach. The offense is going to use more tight ends and a fullback, letting Rosen orchestrate it all and then take his shots down field.
"We're going to ask him to do some more things at the line of scrimmage with regards to changing plays and diagnosing what the defense is playing and getting us into what could be a more successful play," Mora was quoted as saying in the Los Angeles Times.
This seems like a smart approach, given that there are few sure things on the offense beyond Rosen. Top running back Paul Perkins is gone, as are four of the top five pass-catchers and three starting linemen.
But, with Rosen, it seems as if all things are possible in a hard-to-predict South.
"The Pac-12 is a dog-eat-dog conference, and there are no easy games," Mora said. "If you don't bring your 'A' game every week, you're going to get beat, so that is a challenge."
SPOTLIGHT ON SEPTEMBER: There aren't enough inter-sectional games between the Pac-12 and SEC, but UCLA finds itself in a doozy this season on Sept. 3. The Bruins open at Texas A&M, which has a bunch of freaky athletes (DE Myles Garrett and WR Christian Kirk among them) and a new starting quarterback in Oklahoma transfer Trevor Knight. The rest of the month is no bargain, either. A home game against UNLV shouldn't be a problem, but the final two games of the month are at BYU and home to Pac-12 favorite Stanford. Getting though the opening stretch at 2-2 might not be such a bad thing.
KEYS TO SUCCESS: Of course, QB Josh Rosen is the centerpiece to any team success, but let's point out some of the supporting cast that will need to help him get there. A more physical style should work to UCLA's advantage because of returning running backs Soso Jamabo, Nate Starks and Bolu Olorunfunmi, as well as a couple of newcomers. Jamabo could emerge as a superstar. And while the receiving corps took significant hits, UCLA brought over senior cornerback Ishmael Adams to play wideout full time. He is a special talent with the ball in his hands. If these guys reach their ceilings to complement Rosen, the offense will be special.
AREAS OF CONCERN: The offensive line is thin, and injuries could spell disaster, although, to be fair, coach Jim Mora says he really likes tackles Conor McDermott and Kolton Miller. While the other undergoes tweaks, the defense is being remodeled, too, and all this might take some break-in time against a tough early schedule. The defense is moving from a 3-4 to more of a 4-3, needing to be more sturdy against the run after allowing 198.5 yards per game on the ground last season, ranking 97th nationally.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "I don't say this in a braggadocios way, but I've been able to be around some of the greatest ever. All had a personality trait that allowed them to integrate themselves into the team, but also separate themselves from the team when they needed to assume that leadership role as a quarterback. I see those traits in Josh at a very young age. He just needs to continue to develop that way." -- UCLA coach Jim Mora on QB Josh Rosen
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
HEAD COACH: Jim Mora, fifth year at UCLA, 37-16 at UCLA and as a college head coach
MOST IMPORTANT PLAYER: QB Josh Rosen -- The Rosen One needs to be the clear leader of the Bruins, a potential No. 1 pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. He has that kind of potential. The final piece to his puzzle is just going to be more experience, which will lead to better and more careful decisions with the ball. He had a combined five turnovers as UCLA lost its final two games last season, against USC and Nebraska.
BREAKOUT STAR: RB Soso Jamabo -- There is no guarantee the sophomore emerges from a crowded group of running backs, but he was the second-leading rusher behind Paul Perkins last season, rushing 66 times for 404 yards and four touchdowns. Nate Starks, who returns, wasn't far behind. Jamabo was the nation's No. 2 running back prospect in the 2015 class, according to the 247Sports Composite, trailing only Alabama's Damien Harris. If Jamabo does emerge, there could be a great cross-town running back rivalry with him and USC's Ronald Jones II, also a true sophomore.
NEWCOMER TO WATCH: WR Theo Howard -- QB Josh Rosen is looking for a main man and/or a big-play target, and Howard could be that guy. The four-star recruit, who enrolled early and looked good in the spring, was one of the best early in fall camp catching deep passes. His speed and smooth style should make him an instant-impact performer.
--WR Cordell Broadus, the son of Snoop Dogg, has left the UCLA team for a second time. He was not with the Bruins as they opened camp. The former four-star recruit in the 2015 class initially left the team soon after arriving last year.
--WR Mossi Johnson, who suffered a torn ACL on Oct. 3 against Arizona State, is practicing during fall camp.
--OL Scott Quessenberry, a starter in 2014, redshirted last season because of shoulder surgeries. The former guard projects as the starting center.
--DT Eddie Vanderdoes, one of the best run-stuffers in the country, suffered a torn ACL against Virginia last Sept. 5 and missed the rest of the season. He is practicing in fall camp.
--Freshman PK J.J. Molson is likely to take over the kicking duties for departed Ka'imi Fairbairn, the Pac-12's career scoring leader.
--CB Fabian Moreau, who did not play again last season after suffering a Lisfranc injury Sept. 19 against BYU, was a full-go as practice began. Coach Jim Mora has said the senior has NFL talent.