UCLA’s biggest challenge this week will be internal.
The Bruins, fresh from an emotional and a come-from-behind victory over Nebraska, face lowly New Mexico State at the Rose Bowl on Saturday. The Aggies have not had a winning season since 2002.
“We have to find a way to get focused for this game and find a way to play better,” said UCLA Coach Jim Mora. “There is a lot of areas for improvement on this football team. We got a vision here of what we want to be and we got to work at that every day.”
That could serve as better motivation than trotting out the Aggies' football heritage. New Mexico State has lost 14 consecutive games.
UCLA spent last week dealing with the emotions after the death of receiver Nick Pasquale. The Bruins rallied from a 21-3 deficit against Nebraska and beat the Cornhuskers, 41-21.
Moving forward will not be an issue, Mora said.
“You would certainly understand a hangover,” Mora said. “We can’t let that happen.
“It would be human nature to come off a week like last week, with the death of Nick and the emotions, going to Nebraska and getting a big win for this team, then going to Nick’s service yesterday, and have a hangover. We got a coaching staff -- and it’s the coaches responsibility -- that will push kids out of any hangover effect.”
It won’t just be coaches, quarterback Brett Hundley said.
“That’s where leadership comes in,” Hundley said. “The team leadership, including myself, will remind young guys that everyone at this level is a big-time player, even if their record might not show it.”