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Cade McNown hasn’t heard many boos lately

October 7, 1997

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Cade McNown remembers hearing the booing _ and there was plenty of it _ during the last two years as he learned the ropes as UCLA’s starting quarterback.

He hasn’t heard much negative crowd reaction lately.

``It’s pretty hard to miss,″ he said Monday. ``Coming into the season, I think people were pretty short-tempered with me. People are pretty quick to jump on my back.″

Now, they’re jumping on his bandwagon. Quarterbacks who lead their team to 172 points in a span of three games aren’t going to get booed very much.

``It’s a funny game,″ McNown said. ``I’m having fun.″

A junior, McNown has been UCLA’s starting quarterback since early in his freshman year. He had some very good games the last two seasons, and some not so good.

This year, he’s been terrific, especially in the last three games.

``Experience, experience, that’s the whole key,″ UCLA coach Bob Toledo said of McNown. ``He feels much more comfortable because he’s been doing it. He’s getting pretty good.″

While playing just the first half in a 66-10 victory over Houston last weekend, McNown completed 11 of 14 passes for 297 yards and four touchdowns.

Overall this year, he has completed 90 of 138 passes for 1,422 yards and 11 touchdowns with only two interceptions. He is ranked fourth in the country in passing efficiency.

McNown said one thing that’s helped ``is knowing I have a plethora of guys to go to, and the defenses know it, too.″

``I think there’s a real jelling going on,″ he said. ``Everyone wants to keep this thing rolling right now.″

As far as his improvement is concerned, McNown said, ``I’m pretty comfortable. I can still learn and get better. I don’t think I’m there yet. I don’t think I’m an All-Pro quarterback or something. I still have a long way to go.″

Both of McNown’s interceptions came during a 30-24 loss to No. 9 Tennessee on Sept. 6. He finished that game with 27 completions in 43 attempts for a career-high 400 yards.

Since that game, he is 44-of-61 for 765 yards and nine touchdowns, with no interceptions, and he has thrown 97 passes since his last interception.

``That’s good, but all of a sudden, you can have three in a game,″ he said. ``I’m happy with what’s happened this year. If I could take a couple things back, I would. I just want to keep it going.″

The 18th-ranked Bruins (3-2, 1-1 Pac-10) will try to keep it going on Saturday against Oregon (3-2, 1-2) in Eugene, Ore.

It will be a homecoming of sorts for McNown, who attended West Linn High in Oregon for one year after playing at San Benito High in Hollister, Calif., for three years.

McNown didn’t have one of his best games when the Bruins played the Ducks in Eugene last season, completing 13 of 24 passes for 158 yards and one touchdown with two interceptions. Nevertheless, UCLA won a 41-22 decision.

``I don’t want to lose up there,″ he said. ``I don’t think anybody on this team wants to lose right now.″

Toledo said his team needs to keep a level head.

``We’ve got six very tough Pac-10 games coming up,″ he said. ``I hate to use an old cliche, but we’ve got to take them one at a time.

``We’re not the finished product. We’re tightening the screws all the time. We’re not going to be complacent, we’re not going to be content.″

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