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UCLA FOOTBALL FYI

UCLA's tendency to pass the ball around leaves some receivers out

The Bruins have had nine or more receivers catch passes in games five times this season, but fewer than usual had receptions against Colorado.

November 07, 2013|By Chris Foster

There's a catch to playing receiver at UCLA. That is: Sometimes there's not a catch.

The Bruins use several receivers, and quarterback Brett Hundley typically spreads around his passes. But once in a while someone misses out.

Devin Lucien griped on his Twitter account immediately after Saturday's game against Colorado about not having a reception.

The Bruins used six designated receivers against the Buffaloes, plus three Y-backs. Six players made receptions.

The team leaders against Colorado were Jordan Payton (four receptions for 31 yards), Devin Fuller (three for 99) and Shaquelle Evans (three for 66). Fuller had touchdown catches of 76 and six yards. The same three are the Bruins' leading receivers this season: Fuller has 34 receptions for 417 yards, Evans 30 for 406 and Payton 24 for 314.

Even though UCLA's passing game was in gear against Colorado, fewer receivers than usual caught passes. UCLA has had nine or more receivers catch passes in games five times this season.

"We all understand that there is a constant rotation as we try to play faster and faster," Payton said. "Not everyone can be targeted six or seven times a game. That's just the nature of the offense."

Said offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone: "You don't want to temper the competitiveness of 'I want the ball in my hands.' Every receiver is the same way. They work hard to get open. When they don't get the football, they get frustrated. I totally understand that."

Veteran's influence

UCLA has depended on three freshmen on the defensive line this season, Eddie Vanderdoes, Kenny Clark and Kylie Fitts.

They have their position coach to help, but also a savvy mentor in senior defensive end Cassius Marsh.

"You try to teach them every little trick you've learned since you have been around," Marsh said. "Sometimes they catch on, sometimes they don't."

Some lessons may kick in later.

"They'll remember these things," Marsh said. "When somebody else says they really need to learn something, they'll be like, 'Oh wow, three years ago, Cassius was telling me that same thing.'"

Subtract and add

Running back Jordon James is not expected to play against Arizona on Saturday, Coach Jim Mora said. James, who reinjured his right ankle against Colorado last week, is UCLA's leading rusher with 471 yards even though he sat out three games after injuring his ankle against Utah in the Bruins' fourth game. Paul Perkins has started in James' place.

UCLA will also be without running back Steven Manfro (ankle), but the Bruins' running game has received a boost from the return of Damien Thigpen, who had 38 yards in four carries against Colorado. Thigpen was sidelined much of the season while recovering from a knee injury.

Tackle Simon Goines (knee) is also expected to miss the Arizona game.

chris.foster@latimes.com

Twitter: @cfosterlatimes

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