UCLA opened Saturday’s game at the Rose Bowl in its version of the missing-man formation.
The Bruins’ offense sent 11 players on to the field for their first offensive play against New Mexico State, then called receiver Shaquelle Evans back to the sideline. Nick Pasquale was the symbolic starter at receiver.
Pasquale died Sept. 8 when he was struck by a car. He had been an inspiration to the Bruins in the year-plus he had been on the team.
“Whatever he had to do for the team, he did it,” Evans said. “There was a drill where he had to run down the field and basically be a hitting dummy. He got a concussion in training camp doing it. He didn’t care. He did it every time. He’d go down there and get hit again. He had energy.”
Evans ran to the sideline before the snap holding up a Pasquale towel.
Pasquale played one down against Nevada in the season opener and offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone decide to give him the start Saturday.
“You can’t have 12 men on the field, so Shaq volunteered to let Nick go in for him,” UCLA Coach Jim Mora said. “Ten players, 11 souls.”
The Bruins will have No. 36 — Pasquale’s number — painted on the Rose Bowl turf the remainder of the season. The number was placed at the spot where Pasquale lined up for his one play.
UCLA held a moment of silence for Pasquale before the kickoff. Athletic Director Dan Guerrero and Mora presented Pasquale’s family with a framed jersey at the end of the first quarter.
Quarterback Brett Hundley continues to climb the charts.
His 21-yard pass to Steven Manfro in the first quarter against New Mexico State on Saturday moved him to 4,377 career passing yards and past Dennis Dummit (4,356) into eighth on the UCLA career list. Wayne Cook, who threw for 4,723, is seventh.
If Hundley matches the 3,740 passing yards he had in 2012, he will have the third-most passing yards in UCLA history, behind Cade McNown (10,708) and Drew Olson (8,532).
New Mexico State defensive tackle Willie Mobley’s college football journey, which passed through UCLA in 2009, will end with the Aggies this season.
Mobley signed with Ohio State, then attempted to transfer to UCLA. He was unable to get admitted and spent the year at Orange Coast College, though he did not play football. After failing again to get into UCLA, Mobley decided to go to Arizona.
He graduated from Arizona in 2011 and, with one year of eligibility left, enrolled as a graduate student at New Mexico State. Before Saturday, he had 14 tackles, including one sack, this season.
“He was a nice kid and his mom was great,” said defensive line coach Angus McClure, who was UCLA’s on-campus recruiting coordinator at the time. “We liked him a lot. He just couldn’t get admitted.”