A few days prior to UCLA’s late-night matchup with Colorado on Saturday, coach Jim Mora told reporters that Jordan Lasley, a fourth-year junior receiver, was “growing up at the right time.”
If only Mora knew how prescient those words would become on Saturday evening. Lasley had enjoyed breakout games before. His 158 receiving yards against Stanford in Week 4 marked a career-high, but many of those were, if not useless, not entirely significant. The Cardinal had built up an insurmountable lead, and Lasley’s brilliance was lost amid the uproar over another embarrassing defeat at the hands of David Shaw and Stanford.
But on Saturday night against Colorado, there was little that Lasley did that could possibly be lost, from his flea-flicker grab at the 1-yard-line, setting up a Jalen Starks score, to a 44-yard catch on third-and-12 in the first quarter that set up a Rosen touchdown. While Rosen deserves the lion’s share of the credit for the Bruins’ NCAA-leading success through the air, the quarterback is the first to point to Lasley as a critical ingredient to making it work.
“He’s insanely, absurdly competitive,” Rosen told the Orange County Register. “Every rep in practice is like his last. He’s learned, like D.A. (Darren Andrews) has, how to walk that line between competitiveness and recklessness, find that fine edge. He was the guy during the A&M game who was going to refuse to accept that we were going to lose, and he made sure everybody knew it.”
The A&M game. That one will be etched into UCLA lore for years to come. Down 27 with just 15 minutes to play, the Bruins engineered the biggest FBS comeback in more than a decade, ultimately winning 45-44. It was none other than Lasley who hauled in the game-winning touchdown, off of a fake spike with 43 seconds to go.
“I remember getting up at halftime and telling the offense, ‘I didn’t work this hard for three weeks of training camp so we could get blown out in our home opener,’’ Lasley told the Register. “Jaleel (Wadood) was telling the defense the same thing. We had to keep our boys in the game, to keep believing. It was loud in there but it wasn’t out of hand.”
As long as Rosen is under center, and Lasley and Andrews and Caleb Wilson are the ones being thrown to, little can be considered out of hand for this Bruin offense. Andrews checks in at fifth in the country in receiving yards, Wilson 14, Lasley 18.
“[Rosen] coming to UCLA, me coming to UCLA, it was just kind of embedded, it was kind of a thing that we always wanted to do,” Lasley told the Los Angeles Times. “So having that good chemistry and connecting on the field, it’s fun.”
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