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Disliking USC is natural, and learned, for WR Devin Lucien

Devin Lucien wants to punish USC, but no more than any other school that didn't recruit him. Still, anti-USC vibe on campus is contagious.

November 26, 2013|By Chris Foster

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UCLA receiver Devin Lucien is never one to take the bland route when answering questions.

With UCLA playing USC this week, Lucien was asked how much the result of the game would affect recruiting.

"I wouldn't know," Lucien said. "I'm not the person to ask. Maybe you can ask [Shaquelle Evans], because he got recruited by both schools. UCLA was my only option in Los Angeles."

That response led to a question about whether getting ignored by USC would be on his mind going into Saturday's game at the Coliseum.

His politically correct response was: "Any time you don't get recruited by someone you want to go that extra mile to show that they should have recruited you. There were four Pac-12 schools that didn't offer me — USC, Oregon, Arizona and Stanford. In all those games, I really wanted to get after them."

But, Lucien made it clear, "It's not any more with USC than it is with anybody else. Put that in there too."

Lucien's dislike for the Trojans — and he has one — has been nurtured by the culture at UCLA.

"You get molded into the program and you start to really dislike them," said Lucien, a third-year sophomore who attended Encino Crespi High. "You see everyone else doing it, so you do it too. There is no reason I should like them, is there?"

Freshman linebacker/running back Myles Jack, who is from Washington, is getting indoctrinated.

Asked whether he was starting to understand L.A.'s crosstown rivalry, Jack said, "I'm feeling it in the locker room and on campus. There is a lot of 'Beat 'SC' going around. There's a nice little buzz around campus. Everyone is itching to get to Saturday."

Jack and Lucien both should be itching. They have hot hands.

Jack has six touchdowns in three games as a running back. Lucien has turned two of his last three receptions into long touchdowns. He took a short pass and zipped 40 yards for a touchdown against Washington, and he raced under a Brett Hundley pass for a 42-yard touchdown reception against Arizona State.

"I feel my confidence level is there," Lucien said. "But even if the last game would not have happened, I would still come into this game just as hyped. It's USC."

Secondary motives

Cornerback Fabian Moreau, who sustained a pulled hamstring muscle against Arizona State, was restricted to riding a stationary bicycle at Tuesday's practice.

"I think it will be close," Coach Jim Mora said of Moreau's ability to play Saturday. "I am not counting him out, but I'm not counting on him either."

Safeties Anthony Jefferson and Randall Goforth took turns playing cornerback after Moreau was injured. The Bruins prepared members of the secondary to be interchangeable during training camp.

"We do one-on-ones every day in practice," said Jefferson, who came to UCLA as a cornerback. "Sometimes I'll work as a corner in practice. If they need me, I'm ready. Once you have been a cornerback, you never lose the knack."

Of concern is that any move from safety opens a hole at that position. Freshman Tahaan Goodman has rotated in at safety and his learning curve has accelerated.

"I'm getting more reps this week, working with the first and second team," Goodman said. "It helps with seeing everything I need to see. I play both safeties. I get both looks."

No amount of repetition can make him older, though, on a team that already uses a lot of freshmen and sophomores.

"There is no fairy dust you can sprinkle on freshmen and say, 'Now you're juniors,'" Mora said.

Helping out

UCLA coaches and players will be hosts and servers at a Thanksgiving dinner given by the organization People Assisting the Homeless (PATH) on Thursday. The meal is from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Pink Taco Sunset Strip.

chris.foster@latimes.com

Twitter: @cfosterlatimes

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