QB Hundley mostly watches UCLA spring game
CARSON, Calif. (AP) Blame the inescapable traffic or the celebrity culture of being fashionably late, but UCLA fans that did not arrive at the StubHub Center promptly on Saturday night were in for disappointment.
Bruins quarterback Brett Hundley played just one series of the spring game, meaning all of the remaining drama came from the boxing card held next door.
Running back Paul Perkins rushed for a 2-yard touchdown, Jordon James added touchdown runs of 1 and 3 yards, and Steven Manfro’s 3-yard touchdown run capped the 28-0 win for the Blue team, composed of the starting offense and second-unit defense. The White team consisted of the starting defense and second-unit offense.
And while Hundley wasn’t able to get the Blue team into the end zone himself, the redshirt junior did his part by working with offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone to develop the game plan during the week and calling plays from the sideline.
Here are five takeaways from UCLA’s spring game:
HEALTHY HUNDLEY OR BUST: There aren’t many teams in college football capable of overcoming the loss of their starting quarterback, but the Bruins look to be especially vulnerable if Hundley misses any time.
Backup Jerry Neuheisel threw two interceptions, including an atrocious ball back across his body where cornerback Ishmael Adams was the only player within 5 yards. Athletic redshirt freshman Asiantii Woulard was only 4 of 13 for 42 yards, struggling with his timing and accuracy.
Hundley has been able to survive two years of subpar pass protection, thanks largely to his mobility and sturdy build. However, it only takes one hit to result in a season-shifting injury. If UCLA has any hope of contending for the Pac-12 or national championship, Hundley needs to be kept upright and on the field.
RICH IN RECEIVERS: The graduation of senior wide receiver Shaq Evans, who led the team with 709 yards receiving and nine touchdowns last season, should not hinder Hundley and the Bruins offense in the least.
Jordan Payton used his body effectively to box out defenders and come away with eight receptions for 96 yards, both team-highs, while the quicker Devin Lucien added 79 yards on five catches.
Add in Devin Fuller and Thomas Duarte, neither of whom played Saturday because of injuries but combined for seven touchdowns last season, and UCLA could boast the deepest, most versatile collection of receivers in the conference.
NO BARR, NO PROBLEM? Departed outside linebacker and projected first-round draft pick Anthony Barr was an observer, meaning the Bruins have to replace 23 1/2 career sacks and 41 1/2 tackles for loss. It didn’t seem to be an issue in the split-squad scrimmage, with the defense accounting for eight sacks, albeit with the caveat that any play was whistled dead as soon as a defender touched the quarterback.
Working almost exclusively from their nickel defense and with Barr’s projected successor Kenny Orjioke out for undisclosed reasons, UCLA was still effective at pressuring the quarterback. Defensive end Owamagbe Odighizuwa had two sacks, as did walk-on Zach Vinci.
And when the Bruins do decide to unleash a noticeably bigger Myles Jack – still possessing the sideline-to-sideline range that made him a freshman sensation at outside linebacker, mind you – conference opponents might wish for a return to the simpler days when they only had to account for the All-American Barr.
OWA MY: Odighizuwa missed last season with a hip surgery, but his return as a redshirt senior could finally allow him to deliver on his considerable talent. A highly touted recruit coming out of Portland, Odighizuwa showed that potential as he abused the UCLA offensive tackles, offering pressure off the edge.
”It seemed like he was getting stronger as the game was going on, like it was coming back to him,” head coach Jim Mora said.
ADAMS AMAZES: Fabian Moreau has been the talk of the UCLA secondary during spring practice with his prototypical NFL attributes, but it was Adams who impressed in live action. Adams, the 5-foot-8, 185-pound junior-to-be ripped off several long kick returns to go along with his interception and was effective in coverage. Mazzone has been more than willing to feature defenders on the other side of the ball, so it wouldn’t be a complete shock if Adams were to end up as a situational weapon there considering his elusiveness in the open field.