Biggest impact players for UCLA: No. 1, QB Brett Hundley
AUG 22, 2014 11:10a ET
Brett Hundley's face was plastered on billboards all throughout the Southland after he made his announcement to return to UCLA for his junior season. The quarterback truly is the star of one of the most promising Bruin teams in almost a decade.
Hundley has the keys to one of the top offenses in the country, and this is the season he has the green light to step on the gas pedal and take it up to full speed.
Strengths: A dual-threat quarterback who is equally strong running and passing. Hundley was one of the most efficient quarterbacks in the FBS last season, finishing No. 17 in pass efficiency rating with a 153.7. But he also led the Bruins in rushing yards and regularly was able to escape trouble by using his legs.
With such strong depth at receiver this season, both head coach Jim Mora and offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone have said that Hundley will look to pass first and push the tempo even more so than in his previous two seasons.
"He's in his third year and he's taken all those snaps so you're going to see growth," Mora said. "He's got a better chemistry now with guys like Joran Payton, Devin Lucien, Thomas Duarte, Devin Fuller and Logan Sweet, who has shown up a lot."
Weaknesses: Hundley displayed a remarkable unwillingness to get rid of the football in his two seasons with the Bruins. His decision-making came under fire at times last season. He has looked much sharper in fall camp, but he won't truly be tested until the regular season begins.
There also have been times when Hundley didn't seem to completely trust his offensive line. Understandable, considering several linemen rotated in and out due to injury; and his blind-side protection has changed a handful of times in two seasons. That now continues into this season, as the line already has been hit with injuries.
"If there's one thing I would have wished for during this camp it would have been to have a little more continuity on this offensive line," Mora said. "But if you look at the big picture, it’s having some position versatility. You're not going to go through a season unscathed, so having guys that can move around and work at different spots will help."
Key Stat: Always the playmaker, Hundley has passed for or thrown for at least one touchdown in each of his 27 career games.
Quotable: There isn't anyone else who Mora would trust with the team right now.
"I wouldn't trade Brett for anybody in the country," he said. "Would you?"
Final thought: Hundley made the decision to come back to UCLA, and his time at the Manning Camp and working with other NFL quarterbacks has helped him see where he needs to improve. He really showed maturity when he acknowledged that he needed to his improve decision-making skills and defensive reads; and then he actually went out and did it.
Two questions still remain: Who gets the nod at quarterback behind Hundley, and the health of the offensive line entering the season. But the answers don't seem to be coming anytime soon.