One person who is definitely not celebrating UCLA’s 3-0 start is Bruins receiver Shaquelle Evans. He has experience in these situations.
Evans was a freshman at Notre Dame in 2009, when the Fighting Irish won six of their first eight games.
“We started listening to the noise,” Evans said. “We lost our last four games.”
The Bruins’ start had them dealing with electronic media noise this week. Five television stations sent camera crews to Westwood on Tuesday to ask how UCLA players were handling success while preparing to play Oregon State on Saturday at the Rose Bowl.
The extra attention had Coach Jim Mora sticking mostly with coach-speak in the post-practice media session. On Wednesday, though, he was caught off guard by a radio reporter, who said, “You have one huge positive stat. They have a bad record in playing their first game on grass every season.”
Mora chuckled, but was left speechless … until the follow-up question: “You don’t look at those things?”
Said Mora: “No, that’s completely irrelevant to this game.”
If the 19th-ranked Bruins keep winning, more attention will come. Evans said the Bruins are prepared.
“Since Day One, we’ve said, ‘Don’t listen to the noise,’” Evans said. “People will talk about you when you’re bad and they are especially going to talk about you when you’re good. We’ve got to keep a humble heart. It can go the other way fast … 3-0 isn’t anything.”
UCLA fans already know that. This is the fifth time that UCLA has started 3-0 since 2000. Only once was that a precursor to double-digit victories. The Bruins were 10-2 in 2005, but finished 6-6 in 2000, 7-4 in 2001 and 7-6 in 2009.
Mora’s record as a Pac-12 assistant and head coach is a combined 14-1.
Mora was a graduate assistant for the 1984 Washington Huskies, who went 11-1 and beat Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl.
He returns to conference play Saturday after a 27-year hiatus.
“You really want to treat every game the same, and that should be your message,” Mora said. “But I don’t think you can deny the fact that conference games are very important, more important. … I guess what makes them more intense is the familiarity amongst coaches and players.”