Tuesday, November 30

Football prepares for USC with visit from NFL coach, otherwise maintains routine

Junior wide receiver Delon Hurt caught his first touchdown pass for UCLA football against Arizona State. He said the team has now turned its attention to trying for another win Saturday versus USC. (Tanmay Shankar/Daily Bruin senior staff)

When an undefeated rival is next up on the schedule, it isn’t uncommon to pull out all the stops.

For the Bruins, that included having New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick talk to the team after Tuesday morning’s practice.

But even with a six-time Super Bowl champion stopping by for some game-week inspiration and a crosstown battle for Los Angeles a few days away, junior wide receiver Delon Hurt said it’s just another game.

“As a team, we try not to look into the bigger picture and different stuff like that, outside noise,” Hurt said. “This is the next game for us, so that’s the reason why we’re just focused on it.”

UCLA football’s (3-2) upcoming game against No. 15 USC (4-0) is its final scheduled regular season game of 2020. Should the Bruins continue their season unimpeded by COVID-19, they’ll play a seventh game against another Pac-12 opponent one week later, and they have to win at least one of those two games in order to finish the season over .500 for the first time since 2015.

Redshirt junior cornerback Jay Shaw echoed Hurt’s sentiments, claiming the added competitiveness of the crosstown matchup will wear off by the end of the first half.

“After that, after the second quarter, everybody just comes back down to earth and it’s just another football team, just another football game,” Shaw said. “And like every other game, we’re trying to get the W.”

Shaw went to high school with multiple Trojans, including cornerback Jayden Williams and receivers Gary Bryant Jr. and Drake London. Shaw said he’s talked with London – USC’s third-leading wideout – this week, but football didn’t even come up on their call.

Hurt has former high school teammates who are now suited up in cardinal and gold as well, but he said he hasn’t spoken to them. Growing up, Hurt was a UCLA fan, but he said there wasn’t any bad blood with the rival from South Central.

“I didn’t hate (USC) necessarily, but I always rooted for the Bruins,” Hurt said. “Pretty much, that’s how that went.”

Redshirt sophomore wide receiver Kyle Philips said Monday he, too, would approach the USC game like he would any other. Philips did say he would miss the annual Beat ‘SC Rally, which was canceled due to COVID-19 and a closed campus, but he downplayed the importance of it in relation to the game.

“It’s definitely a bummer not being able to interact with fans and have the fans there, but I wouldn’t really say that affects us too much,” Philips said. “We tend to approach the game the same way every time, so fans there or not, we’re going to play the game the same way and we’re going to practice the same way and approach it the same way.”

Throw just about anything the Bruins’ way – a legendary NFL coach, a pandemic, an underdog status or a 91-year-old rivalry – and the response seems to be the same.

It’s business as usual.


Connon joined the Bruin as a freshman in 2017 and contributed until he graduated in 2021. He was the Sports editor for the 2019-2020 academic year, an assistant Sports editor for the 2018-2019 academic year and spent time on the football, men's basketball, women's basketball, baseball, men's soccer, cross country, men's golf and women's golf beats, while also contributing movie reviews for Arts & Entertainment.

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