UCLA notes: Go nuts for Nick; Barr chasing first sack
UCLA continues to honor late WR Pasquale, with proceeds from T-shirt sales to Nick Pasquale Foundation.
By ABBEY MASTRACCOFS West
LOS ANGELES -- The Bruins continue to play for their late teammate Nick Pasquale and with their return home to the Rose Bowl Saturday night, plans to help support the newly created foundation in his name are at an all-time high.
UCLA have joined forces to create No. 36 T-shirts that will be for sale at the game and through the UCLA store. All of the proceeds will go directly to the
Nick Pasquale Foundation.
His number will also be painted on the field and his parents, Mel and Laurie, as well as his brother A.J., will be presented with a jersey by Mora and athletic director Dan Guerrero between the first and second quarters.
"When 100 percent of the proceeds go straight to the foundation, I would hope that we would be able to raise a lot of money for that foundation," Mora said.
There will also be a moment of silence before the game.
Ultimately, Mora hopes for a true home celebration of Pasquale's life.
"I know our fans will be very respectful in that moment of silence," Mora said. "And then I think we just need to let it all out…
"Go nuts for Nick."
Barr on first sack: 'It will come'
When the guy that was second in the nation in sacks last season leads the defensive front, it should come as no surprise when that unit emerges as a strength.
And that same guy, linebacker Anthony Barr, doesn't even have a sack yet
this season. But redshirt senior defensive end Keenan Graham does. Graham has three to his credit and Seali'i Epenesa, a senior tackle, also has one.
Graham, Myles Jack and others have been making their presence felt along with the usual suspects like Barr, Eric Kendricks and Jordan Zumwalt.
"It's a real luxury for us right now," head coach Jim Mora said. "Those guys are big, physical, strong, athletic, smart guys so it's fun to have those kind of guys on your roster."
The versatility of several of the linebackers in particular is what Mora has been especially impressed with. Jack worked out on pass coverage this week and snagged two interceptions.
"Maybe we'll just play him at corner, I don't know?" Mora joked. "They're all really smart too. Kenny (Orjioke), A-Wal (Aaron Wallace), Anthony and Miles are all smart guys."
Make no mistake -- Barr is still the leader of that group. Three forced fumbles and a career-high 11 tackles (two for loss) earned him national recognition with a slew of awards.
"I felt good out there," Barr said. "I had my legs underneath me and my wind. I just made the plays that came my way."
But that doesn't mean he's not waiting for that first sack.
"I think I let a couple go last week," Barr said. "It will come. I've just got to continue working and I think this week maybe I'll have a better opportunity. The last couple weeks we were emphasizing keeping the quarterback in front of us, so that kind of played a part in it but I'll hopefully get a couple in this game."
What to expect vs. New Mexico State
The lowly Lobos come into the game against No. 13 UCLA winless and still deep in the midst of major rebuilding.
Freshmen will start in two key skill positions, quarterback and running back, as turnovers have plagued the Lobos over the last three games.
A brand new signal caller is an enticing prospect for Barr but he's not counting King Davis III out just yet.
"If he's playing quarterback, he's playing for a reason," Barr said. "Obviously, they have faith in him and they believe that he's the guy that can help them win games. We're going to have to take him as seriously as we have the last couple weeks."
Mora is more worried about the New Mexico State defense.
"New Mexico State does some things we haven't seen up front," Mora said. "They'll give you some unusual alignments and they can cause some problems and makes some plays because of it. When we see those things, we just have to follow our rules to get through them and hope that we can make the play."