With all the success UCLA has had the past 14 months, there’s a reason for players to feel confident. The Bruins are ranked 13 in the country and are poised to be legitimate Rose Bowl contenders by seasons end.
Meanwhile, across town, USC had had a difficult year, with Lane Kiffin on the hot seat and the Trojans reeling both on the recruiting trail and on the field.
In general, though, this rivalry is defined by the two teams alternating periods of dominance.
And for UCLA fans, watching USC struggle is exciting and enjoyable.
That mentality is for fans only though. UCLA head coach Jim Mora has implemented a one-game-at-a-time, respect-your-opponent mindset. His players talk the way Mora does and many attribute the Bruins’ success to this mentality.
Unfortunately, UCLA wide-out Shaq Evans didn’t get the memo, as the senior went on public airwaves to slam USC. From Scott Wolf of the LA Daily News:
This is all pretty tough to watch. This Bruins football team has done a good job of focusing on the task at hand rather than making everything about the rivalry. UCLA has championed a “new normal” that sees the team treating every game as important as the next.
Evans is a part of a senior class that felt the wrath of the 2011 Trojans that beat UCLA 50-0, so that’s likely why his hate burns hotter for the Trojans than the rest.
This is no excuse though, and given the way Mora has run this program, expect the second-year coach to reprimand Evans for his comments.
Rightfully so. This UCLA team plays New Mexico State this Saturday, although Evans seems to think it’s already late November.