UCLA’s keys to success: No. 3, depth at receiver

There is one aspect of the Bruins’ game that is almost an afterthought coming into the 2013 season: The receiving corps.

The Bruins boast considerable receiving depth, returning their top receiver in Shaquelle Evans (62.6 yards per game, three touchdowns) and with the departures of Jerry Johnson and tight end Joseph Fauria, Devin Fuller, Devin Lucien, Darius Bell and Jordon Payton are ready to step in and player bigger roles. Not to mention, Logan Sweet and Grayson Mazzone both turned in strong performances in training camp.

“Regardless of who starts at that position, with the way that we operate and the pace that we go at, they’re all going to play,” Mora said. “And they’re probably going to play an equal amount of snaps.”

Having a wide array of capable and athletic receivers first perfectly into offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone’s pass-heavy spread. Sweet and freshman Eldridge Massington have shown promise as deep threats and Fuller, a former quarterback who has finally fully matured into a receiver role, has been effective in short-yardage situations.

“He looks like a receiver, rather than a quarterback playing receiver,” Mora said. “He’s got better body control running his routes. He’s a fabulous athlete.”

Evans, now a redshirt-senior has become the veteran of the group and his consistent play will be key in the passing game.

“I do everything my coach tells me to and more,” Evans said. “I watch football all the time. I just know the game very well, like a veteran. Like a veteran 15-year NFL player.”

The Y receivers will be led by Bell but he has recently seen strong competition from Thomas Duarte, a true freshman out of Fullerton.

“I think what’s great is having Thomas here pushing Darius has been a really good thing and I think having Darius here showing Thomas how to do it is a good thing,” Mora said. “As many plays as we play, to me, they’re both starters.”

The pmportance of WR depth

A go-to running back has yet to really emerge, and although Hundley is a dual-threat with the ability to run, having such a wide array of versatile targets will take some of the pressure off Hundley’s legs.

Number of Note: 12

Up to 12 receivers, possibly more, could see
starting action throughout the season. In addition, Cassius Marsh,
Anthony Barr and a few other defensive players will see offensive snaps
on certain specialty packages. Mora has joked that Mazzone would like to
take defensive players and convert them to offense.

“Noel is begging me for Cassius at tight end,” More said.

Quotables

Mora on Duarte: “If we have 90 plays in a game, which I hope we do but I don’t know if we ever will, I could see Thomas playing 40. That’s a lot of snaps.”

Lucien on Evans: “Shaq is the most consistent player that I know, easily. Maybe the most of any player that I’ve met.”

Fuller: “I think I’ve learned a lot from last year, there’s more maturity in running routes and learning defenses. This whole offense has matured, as a whole.”

2013 outlook

Look for Hundley and the Bruins to launch an aerial attack. UCLA’s offense is shaping up to be a fast-paced, pass-heavy and, in the end, exciting.