UCLA’s Brett Hundley is Ready for Takeoff

Leading the way: UCLAquarterback Brett Hundley leads the Bruins to a 58-20 win over Nevada. Photo Credit: Jevone Moore/360 Full Image
Leading the way: UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley leads the Bruins to a 58-20 win over Nevada. Photo Credit: Jevone Moore/Full Image 360

Brett Hundley flew under the radar last year when it came to being mentioned as one of college football’s best quarterbacks. That’s not the case anymore. Sure, there are several other quarterbacks being lumped in the same sentence as Heisman Trophy. But you would have to be foolish to sleep on Hundley.

As a redshirt freshman last season, Hundley raised more than a few eyebrows with his cool-under-fire demeanor and electric play-making abilities. We immediately got a taste of what this kid was about when he bolted for a 72-yard touchdown run on his first official play from scrimmage against Rice in UCLA’s first game of the 2012 season.

Hundley completed over 66 percent of his passes while throwing for 3,745 yards and 29 touchdowns. Not too bad for an under-the-radar debut. But now Hundley is expected to put No. 21 UCLA into a top-tier FBS bowl game, and quite possibility, into contention of a national championship.

Fair or unfair, everyone wants more results from the redshirt sophomore. Can Hundley deliver on those lofty expectations? That remains to be seen. But what’s certain is that he and his UCLA teammates have higher standards to measure up to than they did last season.

The expectations are far greater this year. UCLA and head coach Jim Mora know as much. The Bruins understand they can’t afford to let their guards down this season, despite the surprising success the football team achieved in 2012.

Of course, we all know that last season was a triumph in more than a couple of ways.  Last year, Hundley dazzled. UCLA’s defense played spectacular at times. The Bruins went 9-5 on the season  last year, finishing with a respectable 6-3 mark in the Pac-12 South Division.

Over the top: Brett Hundley shows off his airborne skills against Nevada. Photo Credit: Jevone Moore/Full Image 360
Over the top: Brett Hundley shows off his airborne skills against Nevada. Photo Credit: Jevone Moore/Full Image 360

 

Closing the deal on a successful 2012 football season, Hundley and UCLA put beat down on crosstown rival USC in a 38-28 win.

The Bruins are now expected to build on that success from last season. In a preseason poll, UCLA was picked to win the Pac-12 South Division this year. That all hangs in the balance on the scrambling feet and strong right arm of Hundley, entering his second season as the Bruins starting quarterback.

So far, so good.  Against Nevada, Hundley and the Bruins picked up where they left, handing the Wolf Pack a 58-20 defeat in Westwood.

Hundley put on another bravo performance, accounting for 337 yards in total offense. Hundley passed for two touchdowns and rushed for two more, perhaps giving him some momentum for his own Heisman campaign. If he wants to increase his odds of being noticed by Heisman voters, Hundley will have to have another strong outing in two weeks against Nebraska in Lincoln.

What Hundley did against Nevada isn’t something new. It’s expected. UCLA coach Jim Mora knows what Hundley can and cannot do. At the Pac-12 Media Day in Culver City this past July, Mora spoke out about his gifted signal-caller.

“Brett has all the tools to be a great player,” Mora said. “He’s not a great player yet. He has the physical stature, he’s big, he’s fast, and he’s strong, and he’s physical. He can stand in the pocket and see over the line and throw the ball down the field with accuracy and velocity and touch. He can get out of the pocket and throw the ball on the move with timing and accuracy. When a play breaks down, he can run.”

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