Filling the WR void left by Lucien

October, 1, 2012
10/01/12
8:17
PM PT
LOS ANGELES -- The loss of receiver Devin Lucien to a broken clavicle will leave a void in the UCLA receiving corps, but the Bruins have the depth to compensate.

Freshman Jordan Payton and walk-on Jerry Rice Jr.
received significantly more playing time Saturday after Lucien went out and Rice ended up with a career-best three catches for 30 yards. Payton also had a catch, his second of the season, and barely missed making a big play when he caught a ball along the sideline but stepped out of bounds.


Those two along, with walk-ons Logan Sweet and Tyler Scott will now be in the mix for more playing time.

“Their role is going to increase so they’ve got to step up and continue to do a good job,” coach Jim Mora said. “Jerry played really well the other night. He got extended playing time and did a heck of a job.

“We just look for those guys to keep improving; we’ll just keep doing what we do.”

Lucien has 10 catches for 188 yards, giving him the third most receiving yards and second best yards-per-catch average on the team. Quarterback Brett Hundley acknowledged it’s a big loss -- especially on a personal level, because the two are close friends off the field and have good chemistry -- but he said the loss can’t affect the team’s play.

“We can’t slow down no matter who goes down, and you have to keep staying on the same page,” Hundley said. “We’ve got to get the guys in there and make sure we work them through our practice and just make sure [we] are on the same page.”

They’ll also need to do a better job of squeezing the ball. Mora said he counted seven dropped passes by Bruins receivers Saturday against Colorado, a season high. The Bruins won, 42-14, so they weren’t all that costly; but in a closer game, those could cost UCLA momentum and points.

Mora said the team and coaching staff would do what they can to rectify the issue, including extra work on the Juggs machine, though Mora is wary of making too big a deal about it.

“It’s tricky,” Mora said. “You don’t want to put so much emphasis on it that you start spooking guys, but you have to work on it ... . With this age group you have to motivate them in the right way so we’ll try to do that.”

Zumwalt still questionable

Linebacker Jordan Zumwalt, out last week after a motor scooter accident, has not yet been cleared to play this week and Mora said his status for Saturday is still up in the air.

Zumwalt needed stitches and the services of a plastic surgeon after getting hit by a car while riding his scooter in Westwood last week. He was unable to put on a football helmet because of the gash on his forehead and swelling in his face.

“I saw him this morning and he looked great, but nothing definitive, yet,” Mora said. “The swelling was gone. The wound looked good, so he looks a lot better than he looked Thursday.”

If Zumwalt returns, he will be back at outside linebacker, Mora said, even though his replacement, Damien Holmes, had a career game with seven tackles, three sacks and five tackles for a loss.

“I teased [Jordan] this morning and said, ‘You get healthy fast when a guy goes in you spot and gets three sacks, don’t you?’” Mora said. “It’s good for our team to have competition. It’s great for our team to have multiple players that can do good things on the outside.”

Other injury updates:

Offensive lineman Greg Capella has missed the last two games with a concussion and Mora said he doesn’t expect to have him back this week. … Running back Johnathan Franklin took a helmet to his hand while running the ball against Colorado and left the game briefly, but returned later. Mora said Franklin is “not on the injury report” and “he’s fine.”







Peter Yoon

ESPNLosAngeles.com

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