UCLA football team looks ahead to Utah and toughest test of the season

LOS ANGELES — The UCLA football team is ranked in the Associated Press Top 25 college football poll for the first time this season and it has opened the season 5-0 for the first time since 2013.

But fifth-year quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson defines respect in a more tangible form.

“It comes with you earning a ring,” he said on Monday morning. “Earning hardware at the end of the season. That’s what really determines how hard you work throughout the year.”

Thompson-Robinson was fired up immediately after the Bruins’ 40-32 win over then-No. 15 Washington on Saturday. He said that he didn’t cool down completely until he was showered and back in the comfort of his own home.

Who can blame him, with a performance that included over 300 passing yards and a hurdle over a defender? But this week, it’s time to transition to focus on Utah, ranked No. 12 in the latest AP poll.

UCLA (5-0 overall, 2-0 Pac-12) is now No. 18 in the AP poll and pushed Washington down to No. 21. But like Thompson-Robinson, head coach Chip Kelly noted the absence of hardware at this point in the season.

“Right after you’re ranked, there’s really nothing else. You don’t get a trophy,” Kelly said. “We beat Washington last week because of our preparation during the week. If we’re going to beat Utah, it’s going to be because of our preparation during the week. Hope isn’t a strategy.”

The Bruins are adhering to the “1-0 every week” adage in an effort to achieve a consistent mentality as the wins continue to stack up with Utah (4-1, 2-0) looming. UCLA hasn’t recorded a home win against the Utes, the defending Pac-12 champions since 2012.

“Right now we’re 5-0, but 5-0 doesn’t get you a championship ring,” Thompson-Robinson said. “We’re going to take it week by week. If we can continue to go 1-0 each week, we’ll be pretty damn successful.”

Medrano being monitored

Kain Medrano was spoken highly of all throughout fall camp, but has yet to make major contributions in a game this season due to an unspecified injury.

He dressed for the season-opener against Bowling Green and the most recent game against Washington, but didn’t record a tackle in either. He’s appeared to be a full participant in recent practices, however.

“Kain’s doing a nice job,” Kelly said. “We’ll continue to monitor him and see where he is, but he’s done a great job, has been really dedicated to his rehabilitation so we’ll see where he ends up this week.”

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Grayson Murphy appeared to suffer a minor unspecified hand injury early in the fourth quarter against Washington. He participated in Monday’s practice with a taped pinky finger on his right hand.

When Murphy left the field, his twin brother, Gabriel, followed him off during the injury timeout. The two do nearly everything together and the circumstance was no exception.

“I was just checking in with my brother, seeing what was going on with him and everything was OK with him,” Gabriel said.

Three times the Calverts

Three Calverts will likely be at the Rose Bowl for Saturday’s game. Bo Calvert, who sacked quarterback Michael Penix, Jr. for a loss of seven yards against Washington, has two younger brothers who attend Utah. All three are linebackers.

Josh Calvert, a sophomore, transferred to Utah ahead of the 2021 season. He’s gotten into one game this season: a 35-7 win over San Diego State. Ethan Calvert, a redshirt freshman, has played in two games this season and is credited with one tackle.

All three played prep football at Oaks Christian School in Westlake. The Ventura County products don’t stop there — Utah quarterback Cameron Rising passed for nearly 1,700 yards and ran for an additional 496 yards as a senior at Newbury Park High School.